International Women’s Day
Today, we are proud to celebrate the success of women across the globe in enhancing female empowerment. Each year, International Women’s Day serves as a powerful opportunity for women to recognize the progress we’ve made and come together to advance equality.
2018 was a remarkable year for women. In communities around the world, we raised our voices for change, secured public office in record numbers and broke glass ceilings in the business world. We found new freedoms here in Saudi Arabia, securing the right to drive and attending sports events. Our experiences may be different, but as women, we are united in our desire to create a better world for ourselves and our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends.
Here in the Middle East, we have just begun our journey. We are excelling in traditionally male-dominated academic areas, joining the economy at a record rate, shaping the political environment and changing the fabric of society. At the highest levels, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud has become the first female Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States and Reema Juffali has become the first professional women race car driver.
And yet, we still face very real hurdles. Today, 13 of the 15 countries with the lowest rate of female participation in the workforce are in the Arab world. Many women still do not have the freedom to live their lives the way they want to. There is still progress to be made.
At Alwaleed Philanthropies, we are on a mission to break down these barriers and help women have empowered futures. Our organization is led by an all-female team of incredible and accomplished Saudi women who understand and appreciate the unique challenges our communities face and work tirelessly to create pathways for women – both in the Middle East and beyond. I am grateful to work alongside such remarkable women leaders, who not only embody our mission, but make our work in more than 160 countries possible every day.
Together, we invest in, support and implement strategic initiatives that increase access to education, create economic opportunities and enable women to assert their intellectual freedom. Here in Saudi Arabia for example, we have partnered with Mawaddah Foundation to help women understand and claim their legal rights. To date, we have provided more than 42,000 women with education, workshops, and legal assistance. We’ve also partnered closely with Careem, a popular ride-hailing app, to train and support women drivers, as part of the effort to increase female participation in the labor force from 22 percent to 30 percent.
Alwaleed Philanthropies is committed to creating opportunities for women in communities around the world. In Afghanistan and Myanmar for example, we have partnered with Turquoise Mountain, a nonprofit organization to train women to be jewelers, weavers and artisans. Through this and other programs like it, we are proud to invest in creative approaches to women’s empowerment that help strengthen communities and preserve local culture.
At its core, our work is about elevating the voices of women and providing them with the tools to create the future they want. That’s why we are proud to partner with UN Women on its ‘Making Every Woman and Girl Count’ initiative, a groundbreaking global initiative designed to close the gender data gap. Together, we’re working to make sure that the needs of women and girls – both here in the region and around the world – are seen, heard and addressed.
Today and every day, I am inspired by my team and the stories of women from around the world to work together to create a better future.