A Step Forward for Women in the Middle East

The Middle East is unfortunately not known for being a center of equality, particularly in regards to women’s rights.  So when a group of Saudi Arabian women decided to set out and create their own group it proved to be a big deal.  The three women who have created the group known as Qiyadiyat (meaning “female leaders” in Aerabic) are Su-ad Yousif, Bodour Al Tamimi and Laila Al Hassan.  The three found they lacked a network of goal oriented women who are like minded.  Thus they set out to create the group and have been met with great success so far.

The group has already had several “High Q” gatherings which sent out invites to high-profile educated women with LinkedIn and Instagram profiles.  The aim of these gatherings besides establishing a network which women can tap into to improve their job prospects, is to help women break the stereotypes and teach them to push for better treatment within their companies.  They say there is no reason for them to be held back on the career ladder due other people’s expectations or preconceived notions.  This means women need to stand up and not let themselves be defined by family life anymore.

The gatherings have attracted a wide variety of high profile speakers from around the world.  At one of the High Q sessions Sheryl Sandberg, a Facebook executive, gave a Ted talk and afterwards it was followed up by discussion on why so few women hold board positions and how this can be changed.  Hussain al Nowais, another big name, showed up at one High Q session and encouraged all of them to continue his efforts and to join his network so that they could expand theirs.  Sessions like these are helping people realize there are a lot of smart and talented Saudi women who are very capable of achieving great things.  Holding them back will only prevent them from being able to contribute to the Saudi economy.

If Saudi women have the motivation, but cannot find the jobs they desire in Saudi Arabia they could begin looking abroad in Europe and America.  This is negative for Saudi Arabia because it creates a brain drain.  Qiyadiyat has proved itself as a successful program for women and the leaders have made sure to keep the sessions positive.  This means not letting them turn into venting sessions about everything which frustrates them, but remaining positive and finding solutions.

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