Through this report, Leaders MENA magazine presents the most important efforts made by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to achieve complementary equality between men and women in various fields and to promote women’s rights, and support and care programs directed at them, and thus improve their work environment in all sectors.
In this report, you will get information about women’s rights according to Saudi regulations, justice decisions that promote women’s rights, women’s empowerment in education and training, women’s health, social support, the National Family Safety Program, and women’s empowerment injustice, business, and politics.
The systems of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which are derived from Islamic Sharia, adopt the principle of complementary equality between men and women, taking into account the characteristics and characteristics of both sexes, to achieve justice in the end.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believes that the integration of the relationship between the sexes is an ideal way to promote and protect human rights, so that most areas of human rights become equal between men and women, such as the right to work, education, health, economic rights, and others.
Starting from the perspective of equality and emphasizing it, the Human Rights Commission allowed both women and men the right to submit communications following the requirements via the link.
Equality in Education and Training
The laws of the Kingdom guarantee to all citizens the right to an education free of charge without any discrimination, and out of its belief in the importance of the role of education in achieving sustainable development and realizing human rights, including:
The regulation stipulates the necessity of “the state providing public education and a commitment to combating illiteracy.”
The general education policy emphasized free education in all its forms and stages, as well as linking education at all stages to the state’s general development plan, which aims to achieve a sound partnership between men and women.
The educational system in the Kingdom is based on equality between men and women in all its aspects, whether concerning the mechanisms of admission and enrollment in school stages, or concerning curricula, tests, or concerning the qualifications of teachers and lecturers, or in the quality of facilities and study equipment.
Women have received more attention in this aspect, such as positive discrimination, especially with the continuation of the establishment of some university cities for girls, such as Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University, and university cities affiliated with Imam Muhammad bin Saud University and King Saud University.
Equality in Grants and Subsidies
The existing programs depend on providing educational and training opportunities equally for both sexes and following the same statutory requirements related to admission procedures.
The percentage of scholarships directed at females has increased significantly, both concerning the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques program for external scholarships, and concerning internal scholarships in Saudi universities.
The Basic Law affirmed the right of men and women to receive health care, as it stated: “The state is concerned with public health and provides health care to every citizen and his family in case of emergency, illness, disability and old age.”
Also, this right is guaranteed to foreign women residing in the Kingdom through the cooperative health insurance system and other related regulations.
The regulations in force in the Kingdom obligate government hospitals to provide health services necessary for an emergency, regardless of their gender or legal status. These efforts have resulted in the improvement of the general situation in some areas.
The competent authorities have implemented some programs and mechanisms aimed at raising the level of women’s health, including:
Early detection clinic for women’s health, which provides mobile services, including early detection of diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and health education, and was implemented as of October 2014.
Health education programs to prevent anemia and iron deficiency, which are being implemented on an ongoing basis in schools, malls, and auditoriums for health facilities auditors.
Advanced Pregnancy Program.
The National Breastfeeding Support Program.
Breast Cancer Early Detection Program.
The Healthy Marriage Program, which provides services to detect some hereditary and infectious diseases for those who are about to marry, such as thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, hepatitis, and acquired immunodeficiency.
Anti-drug and psychotropic programs.
Awareness programs on healthy balanced nutrition.
Programs to prevent chronic diseases, protect against cancer, and avoid its causes.
Epidemiological surveillance system.
Anti-smoking programs and awareness of its harmful effects.
Women’s rights in the justice system
The laws and regulations issued in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia guarantee women their rights and take into account their status and circumstances, including:
A woman has the right to veil herself or to leave the house to be searched if she is not accused, and to grant her the necessary facilities.
If there is only the accused woman in the dwelling to be searched, the system requires that a woman is with those searching.
Executive detention is not permissible for a woman if she is pregnant or has had a child less than two years old.
The regulations stipulated that women should be given their rights of inheritance and inheritance, especially real estate.
A woman’s silence about claiming her right to inheritance does not mean the forfeiture of her right if she demands it.
The personal status courts consider the marriage request for those who do not have a guardian, and for those who had guardians but prevented them from getting married.
Forcing a woman to marry someone she does not agree to and preventing her from marrying someone who meets the criteria is not permissible and is forbidden by Sharia.
Empowering women in education and training
The Ministry of Education directed to provide many educational and development programs to improve the environment for women working in the educational field, as it announced within the National Education Development Program the launch of an initiative to improve professional and educational practices for teachers, and to avoid professional isolation, and to provide a series of lectures, seminars, and workshops for teachers in all KSA’s regions and governorates.
The Kingdom believed in the role of women as a leader and commissioned an official spokesperson for the Ministry of Education for the first time in the history of education and the first woman to occupy this position in a ministry at the level of the Kingdom.
Public Education: It is noted that the net enrollment rates for females increased from 2008 to 2014 at high rates compared to the rates of male enrollment during the same period.
Higher Education: The number of female enrollments in higher education institutions in 2015 reached (749,375) compared to the number of male enrollments (778.394), and educational institutions continued to implement national plans aimed at preparing female human cadres to work in universities as faculty members through academic programs within the Kingdom and outside it, to address the significant shortage of female cadres, whether from faculty members or the supporting human cadre.
Vocational training: The number of technical colleges for females in various regions of the Kingdom has doubled within ten years. The first college was established in 2007, and in 2015 it reached (18) colleges, concerned with providing qualitative training for women to raise their efficiency and qualify them to engage in the labor market.
Empowering women in training and employment
The Ministry of Education directed the provision of many educational and development programs to improve the environment for women working in the educational field.
Within the National Program for the Development of Education, the Ministry announced the launch of an initiative to improve professional and educational practices for teachers, and to distance them from professional isolation, and to provide a series of lectures, seminars, and workshops for teachers in all regions and governorates of the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia believed in the role of women as leaders and commissioned an official spokesperson for the Ministry of Education for the first time in the history of education and the first woman to occupy this position in a ministry at the level of the Kingdom.
Labor law/women’s legislation.
The Agency for Women Empowerment seeks to find initiatives and projects that support the empowerment of women and people with disabilities in the Saudi labor market and work to implement them to achieve the goal of increasing women’s participation in the labor market to achieve justice in equal opportunities in the labor market.
The Saudi labor system for the employment of women stipulates:
Women work in all fields that are compatible with their nature, and it is prohibited to employ them in dangerous jobs or harmful industries.
It is not permissible for women to work during the night for no less than eleven consecutive hours.
A working woman has the right to maternity leave for the four weeks preceding and the six weeks following it. The likely date of delivery is determined by the facility doctor or by a medical certificate certified by a health authority. It is prohibited to employ women during the six weeks immediately following childbirth.
Saudi women’s participation in political life
The initial indicators that came in the J-World report reflect the active participation and the great role that Saudi women play in political life. The percentage of seats held by Saudi women in national parliaments is 20%, and the turnout of Saudi women to run for municipal councils is about 14%.
Among the most prominent Saudi women members of the Shura Council are: Dr. Hanan bint Abdul Rahim Al-Ahmadi, Assistant to the Speaker of the Shura Council, Dr. Asma bint Suleiman bin Abdullah Al-Muwaishir, member of the Shura Council, HRH Princess Al-Jawhara bint Fahd bin Khalid Al Saud, member of the Shura Council, Dr. Amal bint Yahya bin Omar Al-Sheikh is a member of the Shura Council, and Dr. Amal bint Salama Al-Shaman is a member of the Shura Council in its sixth session, among others.
At the level of senior positions in the country, for the first time in the history of the Kingdom, a woman is appointed to the position of assistant speaker of the Shura Council, after a royal order was issued at the beginning of the last quarter of 2020 appointing Dr. Hanan bint Abdul Rahim Al-Ahmadi to that position, while at the level of senior administrative positions.
The percentage of Saudi women in senior and middle management positions is about 25% in the private sector, and 3.29% in the government sector.
Participation of Saudi women in development fields
The role of Saudi women is not limited to administrative and political positions only, but this role also includes all developmental fields.
Saudi women participate reasonably in formulating development policies and strategic activities in the country, and the Kingdom gets a score of 0.62 in the Women’s Participation in Development Index, and Saudi women have made remarkable progress in the main pillars of the index.
Saudi women and economic participation
Out of every 4 Saudi women, one woman participates in the labor market; the unemployment rate among Saudi women decreased from 33.7% in the second quarter of 2016 to 31.1% in the second quarter of 2019, which is more than five times the unemployment rate among Saudi males.
The percentage of Saudi women working in innovative enterprises is about 59% of females and 41% of males, and the percentage of Saudi women’s participation, according to the labor sector, is 41% in the government sector and 31.70% in the private sector.
Saudi women’s participation in the labor market
Since the beginning of the third quarter of 2017, Saudi women no longer need a guardian’s permission to work, which has led to a high rate of Saudi women’s participation in the labor market over the past four years. Its participation rate reached 31.4% during the second quarter of 2020.
The economic participation rates for Saudi females (15 years and over) were higher among Ph.D. holders at a rate of 100%, followed by those with diplomas without a university at a rate of 67.8%, and then those with a higher diploma/masters degree at a rate of 67.4%.
Women and driver’s licenses
A few years ago, Saudi women were prohibited from driving cars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and at the end of the third quarter of 2017, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz issued a royal order allowing Saudi women to drive cars in all parts of the Kingdom, and driving licenses were issued to Saudi women.
In the middle of 2018, and by the beginning of 2020, the total number of driving licenses issued to women reached 174,624 driving licenses.