A TU forum calls for offering Women Studies Courses

date of publication : 2019-03-11

Participants at a forum held at TU entitled “Saudi Women: Ambitions and Achievements under Saudi Vision 2030,” called on Saudi higher education institutions to offer women studies courses. The final recommendations of the forum, announced by Dr. Reem Al-Khammash, Assistant Head of TU’s English Language Center, highlighted the importance of introducing women studies courses at Saudi higher education institutions. With support from TU President Dr. Husam Zaman, such courses have already been approved by Taif University -- a first in Saudi universities.

The participants in the forum also recommended the launching of initiatives to develop women's competencies in order to enhance cooperation between Taif University and various ministries and governmental and private institutions, and to highlight the achievements of Saudi women in order to motivate young women to participate in national programs and initiatives to achieve Saudi Vision 2030. The participants concluded their recommendations by stressing the importance of developing TU’s teaching staff’s potential, and to benefit from their experiences in providing courses that support Saudi women to be active partners in social and economic development.

During the first session of the forum, Dr. Fawziyya Al-Bakr, professor of pedagogy at King Saud University, spoke about the "New Saudi Woman" and her aspirations and the most important challenges facing women in the new mixed-gender work places. Dr. Maymouna Al-Khalil, Head of the National Observatory for Women at King Saud University, gave a brief overview of the observatory, indicating that it is an expert house established in 2018, in line with Saudi Vision 2030, to support women at all levels. Dr. Al-Khalil said that the observatory is an affiliate of the King Abdullah Institute for Studies and Consultative Research at King Saud University that monitors Saudi women's participation in development at all local and international levels and its direct impact on society and development in general. By providing measurement indicators and data on the role of women in development and supporting studies to the beneficiaries to promote women's participation in development, the observatory is a supporting reference for decision-makers and civil society institutions.

Dr. Samar al-Saqqaf, Assistant Professor at George Washington University and consultant at the National Center for Assessment and Academic Accreditation, spoke about her experiences with Saudis studying abroad, including her role in accepting Saudi doctors in the American fellowship program, which used to accept only a few Saudis out of 40,000 annual applicants. Saudi Arabia's Aramco expert, Abeer Al-Olayyan, called on Saudi women to be self-confident and to break the "glass barrier" in order to achieve what they aspire to achieve.

During the second session, “Success Factors and Opportunities for Saudi Women," Dr. Munira Al-Mahasheer, an e-learning program pioneer at Saudi universities, gave a presentation on gender gap indicators in Saudi Arabia based on the analysis of the Global Report on Gender Gap issued by the World Economic Forum. Dr. Al-Mahasheer said that Saudi Arabia ranked 15 in the MENA region and 141 out of 149 countries listed in the 2018 index, be it known that Saudi Arabia ranked 8 in the MENA region in 2015. She praised the improvement in equal pay and participation of women in the labor force, and bridging the gender gap in secondary and higher education. Dr. Al-Mahasheer called for the continued professional, administrative, and political empowerment in order to achieve balance in gender roles, to address the reasons for women's lower representation in growing work areas that require skills and knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and to create appropriate infrastructure and jobs to help women to enter new work fields or to return to previous ones after maternity leave, provide care for children and the elderly.

Dr. Ibtisam Badhrais, assistant professor at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, noted that the theme of International Women's Day 2019 is "balance," stressing that women should not forget to balance their priorities, should achieve a balance between home and work. She said, "Our goal is to achieve Saudi Vision 2030, and I hope to see progressive rates of achievement."

Dr. Majida Abu Ras, Ambassador of Environmental Leadership, noted that Saudi Vision 2030 aims to raise the participation of women in the labor market to 30%, so the State seeks to achieve this goal by empowering women to support them and facilitate the way to create different specialties so that by 2030 they will be able to find suitable jobs, projects, and opportunities. "We are now in the golden age of Saudi women,” she said. “I call on every woman and educator to encourage her students and daughters to cultivate a sense of citizenship and a sense of responsibility. They are creative and need attention, motivation, and encouragement."