Al Nahda Society for Women in Saudi Arabia challenges perceptions
Saudi women make up 51.8% of Saudi university students, according to 2015 statistics from the Ministry of Education. Despite their academic success, only 22% of women join the workforce. Therefore, there is great potential in Saudi Arabia to make huge strides towards gender equality. One NGO is determined to seize this opportunity and address issues of gender inequality, with the inclusion of men playing an important role in their strategy.
Al Nahda Society for Women believes that there is hope for a gender-balanced country. The Saudi Arabian government is working towards Vision 2030 that aims to see many economic and social reforms that will make a positive impact on advancing women's rights. For International Women's Day, the organization created an important campaign to help change old perceptions and trigger new action - all while giving women and men the chance to voice their concerns and faced challenges in a safe and supportive environment.
An impressive video detailing Al Nahda's significant impact
Watch how the Al Nahda campaign successfully sparked conversation around the active roles of both women and men in society and the workplace in Saudi Arabia in order to change perceptions and trigger action.
Questioning gender stereotypes and challenging barriers
Al Nahda questioned stereotypes that affect both genders and discussed barriers that prevent women from reaching their full potential whether at home, in the workforce or in wider society. Al Nahda particularly stressed how low numbers of women in the workforce negatively impact the country's economy and consequently place a larger financial burden on men.
Inviting experts to a roundtable discussion
Al Nahda set out to challenge the status quo in Saudi Arabia by engaging with experts and collecting findings to highlight instances of gender inequality.
For this, Al Nahda invited experts from the government, private and non-government sectors to closed roundtable discussions where they shared views on obstacles and solutions for achieving women’s equity in the labor market as well as exploring issues around financial and digital inclusion. Al Nahda then presented the findings from the roundtable discussions to the general public at the start of an impressive on-campus event.
A gender balanced Instagram and Twitter campaign
Al Nahda took their work online by launching a bi-lingual IWD campaign on Instagram and Twitter featuring videos that highlighted relevant and possible scenarios that involved both female and male role models.
For the campaign, Al Nahda reversed prominent gender stereotypes via a series of six videos that focused on gender balance in the lives of Saudis at home, at work and in wider society. These authentic videos showcased real people in real scenarios and a series of posters presented these people as modern day heroes.
The IWD videos certainly triggered reactions, which provided Al Nahda with valuable insights, particularly those related to some of the more traditional views on gender roles as well as social and cultural barriers.
Most importantly though, thanks to the videos, viewers began to rethink their attitudes towards conventional gender roles for both men and women. New scenarios were presented to the community.
Al Nahda was thrilled with the response to the videos, with each receiving more than 34,000 views. Below are the six video topics and weblinks for viewing.
- Dr. Reem Alhujailan is a scientific researcher at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital Research Center. Her passion and ambition for science became a reality with the support of her family, husband, and colleagues. Watch the video here.
- Asilah successfully completed her Master's degree, creating a balance between her work and family life with the support of her husband who believes that her work and education will achieve both a familial and a professional balance. Watch the video here.
- Naif chose to be an active member at Al Nahda because he believes women are essential to creating a balance in society and, in turn, he will convey that message to future generations. Watch the video here.
- Alaa turned her passion into a career and joined the world of technology thanks to her persistence and her family's belief that women's participation will help achieve a balanced future for Saudi Arabia. Watch the video here.
- Mahabba had a smooth return to work after her maternity leave because her husband played his role as a father and contributed to a balanced family life. Watch the video here.
- Manahel become the CEO of a leading company in recognition of her skills and her father's belief in the importance of having a woman on the board of directors. Watch the video here.
A Pledge Wall for gender balance
Al Nahda also created a safe space to discuss gender equality issues through an on-campus event that took place at the organization's headquarters in Riyadh. One of the activities was the creation of an IWD Pledge Wall that saw 244 attendees pledge to achieve gender balance at work, at home and online. Al Nahda extended their call to participate in the IWD Pledge Wall by making it visible to a number of local malls around Riyadh so as to help reach a wider audience and encourage public commitment to gender balance.
In addition to the Pledge Wall, visitors to the on-campus event listened to recordings of inspirational stories told by women from different social circumstances who challenged gender stereotypes to fulfill their potential. There was also an opportunity to donate and shop to fundraise for Al Nahda’s financial and social empowerment programs which support female led households.
Continuing to forge gender balance
By contributing to achieving gender equality in such a variety of ways, Al Nahda’s IWD campaign will certainly have made a significant impact on Saudi Arabia’s ongoing journey towards equality.
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