Saudi National Day: Kingdom's women and young people shaping the future

UN official Jood Alharthi tells The National that young people in the kingdom are becoming 'change-makers'

Jood Al Harthi, left, the first Saudi woman to be appointed as political affairs officer in the office of the Secretary General of the UN, with UN chief Antonio Guterres. SPA
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Saudi women are taking charge of representing the kingdom across different sectors and positions regionally and globally, some of its most well-known women told The National.

Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, champions women empowerment, which is a key component of reforms in the kingdom.

Jood Al Harthi, the first woman to be appointed as political affairs officer at the Executive Office of the Secretary General of the UN in New York, spoke to The National ahead of Saudi National Day on Saturday.

She said “today more than ever”, the kingdom is making an impact in the space of international co-operation, development, multilateralism and diplomacy.

She said the King Salman Relief Centre had “unarguably expanded” its global reach and scale, with its top projects the previous year focusing on emergency relief co-ordination, food security and early recovery.

“It’s worthy to note that more and more young Saudis have rushed to become volunteers and change-makers for such causes,” she said.

The empowerment of women and youth engagement are top priorities within the kingdom's Vision 2030 initiative.

It is through such initiatives that the kingdom can create a platform for the next generation of Saudi women to “thrive”, said Princess Reema bint Bandar, the kingdom's ambassador to the US.

“We can contribute to break down the barriers in the biases that hold women back and we can foster a world where the next generation of women can thrive,” she said.

“And when we do that, we’ll not only create a more equal and inclusive society but also a more prosperous one. We need more women in leadership roles paving the way.”

Princess Reema, who was appointed ambassador to the US by the Saudi Crown Prince in 2019, said the kingdom needs more female business leaders to reach its potential.

“We need more women in middle management positions continuing the work,” she said.

“We need more women business owners, more mentorship programmes focused on female success, and more people investing in women-led start-ups.”

In 2023, Saudi Arabia sent its first Saudi female astronaut, Rayyanah Barnawi, to the International Space Station.

And Saudi women are rising to top positions across the world, from astrophysics, politics, technology and other industries.

The kingdom has hosted high-level summits over the past year, including the Arab League Summit.

It has allowed the kingdom to further empower its women to take leading roles in its international vision, Ms Alharthi said.

“We’ve seen an increase of women ambassadors, youth representatives and recruitment,” she said.

“As the kingdom marks its National Day, we must recall the huge contributions that make headlines, but most importantly, let us also celebrate the unheard successes and the many transformative plans and dreams in progress.”

She said Saudi Arabia continues to support the voices of the Muslim community globally, and speak against cases of Islamophobia and hate speech to boost peaceful coexistence.

Updated: September 23, 2023, 5:10 AM