According to the World Bank Women, Business and the Law (WBL) report, Saudi Arabia has made an outstanding improvement in six out of the eight indicators relevant to women’s economic participation. These include mobility, workplace laws, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pension. This has been the top ranking among GCC countries. On the other hand though, unemployment among Saudi women remains particularly high. In Saudi Arabia, over 50% of university graduates are female, and yet there is a large pool of educated women whose talent remains untapped.
Women’s economic inclusivity increases productivity levels, economic diversification and income equality for both sexes. Sweden is an amazing example of providing both sexes equal opportunity through the equity principle. Through bisexual inclusivity, Sweden has managed to boost its GDP by six trillion USD.
Within the Kingdom, gradual change is occurring. In the year 2018, two major social mobility restrictions on independent driving and enjoying live matches in stadiums on Saudi women were lifted. Bab Rizq Jameel Female Recruitment Company is already an initiative in Saudi Arabia that has managed to provide employment opportunities to over 20,000 women.
According to said Sarah Iqbal, Program Manager of the Women, Business and the Law project, “Unfortunately, laws are a straight line for men and a maze for many women around the world. And that needs to change. There is no reason to keep women out of certain jobs or prevent them from owning a business. Our message is simple: no women, no growth.”
Economic inclusivity of women is the only way for their social empowerment. The inclusivity of women in higher management has been researched to boost effectiveness and organizational performance because of a balanced mode of approach through mutual consultation of both sexes. Hence, non-inclusivity of women in a profession can lead to overall exclusivity of the female sex from running their own businesses in case of a divorce, or no-marriage because of some disability, or simply poverty. The World Bank has estimated the household income of a Saudi family to increase by 25% by female economic contribution in the economy.
In Italy during COVID-19, unplanned and forced pregnancies under the lockdown aggravated but the state did not support women with elated provisions of birth control pills. It was not deemed necessary because the more pressing concern was tackling the pandemic. Out of the twenty members on the advisory board, not a single one was a woman, considering that 70% of the health workers in Italy are women. Their demands were overlooked because there was always a pregnant lady coming at the hospital seeking pills which were not funded for. That is why we need women because they can better understand the female issues from a jurisdiction perspective.
Gender gaps can cost a nation up to 15% of the GDP. OECD countries scored the highest in bridging the gender gap in the economic environment of their regions. Constant upskilling, re-skilling and higher attainment of education is responsible for 50% of the economic growth in OECD countries.
Paid work can add acknowledgement to hidden talents of these women who are coming forward and have the potential to become business leaders.