Middle East


The first women’s professional golf event to be staged in Saudi Arabia has been rescheduled for Oct. 8-11 after it was postponed last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers have confirmed.

The Saudi Ladies International, which is part of the Ladies European Tour (LET), will be hosted at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club with a purse of $1 million, and is the first of its kind to be held in the kingdom.

“We have been extremely impressed by Golf Saudi’s commitment to working through the challenges and making this historic event happen,” Alexandra Armas, LET CEO, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The tour has been on hold since the South African Women’s Open finished on March 14, with the next scheduled event the Jabra Ladies Open at the Evian Resort Golf Club in France from June 18-20.

The Jakarta Post

Saudi Arabian women continue to make up an increasing part of the Kingdom’s workforce, with participation growing 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 26 percent, according to official data.

Overall unemployment among Saudi Arabians remained unchanged throughout in the quarter at 12 percent.

Unemployment had fallen in the third quarter to 12 percent from 12.9 percent in the second, according to official data released Monday by the Kingdom’s General Authority of Statistics (GASTAT).

The unemployment rate among Saudi Arabia’s total population stood at 5.7 percent. Around one-third of residents in the Kingdom are non-Saudis.

These numbers will likely take a hit in 2020 as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic causes severe economic shocks around the world. Governments have imposed lockdowns and shut businesses, with Saudi Arabia putting a 24-hour curfew in place for its major cities.

Economic participation among Saudis, a goal of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan and Saudization initiatives, has increased. Figures for all Saudi Arabian citizens were up from 45.7 percent to 46.7 percent in Q4 2019. For Saudi Arabian males, the figure was 66.6 percent – a slight decrease of 0.4 percent.

The increase reflects the growing role of women in the workforce. Age is also a factor, with young people constituting the highest proportion of the unemployed. The survey reported 64.1 percent of Saudi Arabians aged 20-29 were unemployed.

GASTAT conducts quarterly surveys of the labor market in the Kingdom and also uses data from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, Human Resources Development Fund, National Information Center, and General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI). — Al Arabiya English

Saudi Gazette

Government measures to stop the coronavirus spreading are keeping most of Jordan’s workers at home, but 40 women making crucial protective wear for medics under a pioneering initiative are the exception.

Despite a strict countrywide lockdown, the mostly female workers at the Norseen garment factory in northern Jordan have been given special dispensation to go to work making masks and sterile suits under contract to the government.

Although women account for more than half all college enrollments in Jordan, less than one in five women is in paid work, due largely to sexist attitudes and limited access to affordable childcare and transport.

Yet they make up about 95% of staff at the Norseen Factory, which was set up in early 2019 as part of a government initiative to bring work to low-income areas.

The factory, which usually makes protective gear for export, provides door-to-door bus transport for all the women, which has allowed employee Mariam to provide for her four children.

“My husband’s income wasn’t enough to cover our son’s studies, so I decided to help him with household finances,” said Mariam, 38, who asked to be identified only by her first name due to the taboo about women working.

“There’s nothing wrong with a woman wanting to help her husband.”

Nonetheless, Mariam said her retired husband was nervous about her leaving the house during the outbreak.

“Every day before I come home my husband tells me to be careful and sanitize well.

“At the factory we no longer use the fingerprint scanners, we keep our distance and the machines are properly cleaned.”

The coronavirus measures have only made it more difficult for women to work outside the home, said Mayyada Abu Jaber, founder of JoWomenomics, an employment empowerment program that places women like Mariam in rural factory jobs.

“Those who are working are scared because of the virus and those who are not working are scared about their jobs,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

With all but essential workers in Jordan now barred from leaving home except to buy food or medicine, Abu Jaber’s team is holding online mentoring sessions and leading WhatsApp group discussions to keep her trainees motivated.

Mariam originally planned to resign after she had saved enough to put her eldest through school, but the training and the work encouraged her to keep going, she said.

But Abu Jaber worries that many women like her could lose their jobs if the curfew continues and factories are no longer able to pay them.

“We’re worried they’ll stay at home, we want to make sure they go back,” she said. “We’re doing everything virtually while everyone is living in uncertainty.”

Source: Reuters

The UAE is among four countries that have attained the largest progress in women’s political representation over a 25-year period, revealed an Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU, report.

According to the report ‘Women in parliament: 1995 – 2020’, the largest progress in women’s representation has been achieved by “Rwanda, the United Arab Emirates, Andorra and Bolivia, with +57, +50, +42.8 and + 42.3 percentage points gained between 1995 and 2020, respectively, in their lower or single houses.”

The IPU report noted that global women’s parliamentary participation has more than doubled over the past 25 years, reaching 24.9 percent in 2020, up from 11.3 percent in 1995.

The UAE has positioned itself in fourth position globally as a result of the UAE’s 50:50 ratio for parliamentary participation. The report noted that the UAE is among three countries that have made “great strides in women’s participation” following the adoption of the 2019 presidential decree mandating gender parity in the UAE’s Federal National Council, FNC.

The report went on to cite the importance of quotas to drive up women’s representation in parliaments. “Before 1995, only two countries – Argentina and Nepal – applied legislated gender quotas,” the report noted adding that today, “elections in 81 countries are held under legislation that provides for gender quotas.”

The FNC and the IPU strengthened their mutual ties by signing a cooperation and technical partnership agreement in March 2014, which is the first to be signed by the IPU with a national parliament, on the sidelines of the participation of the Emirati Parliamentary Division in the IPU’s General Assembly “129-130,” held in Geneva from 12th to 20th March, 2014.


In commemoration of the International Women’s Day, the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) celebrates the achievements of the women’s rights agenda, particularly the implementation of Jordan’s National Action Plan (JONAP) on the UN Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security.

Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and post-conflict reconstruction, while stressing the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security, according to the UN’s website.

The ARDD, on behalf of Jordan National NGOs Forum (JONAF), represented by the Arab Cultural Forum, brought together representatives from the government, security agencies, educational institutions, representatives of civil society organisations and diplomatic missions in Jordan at Al Hussein Youth Sport City to mark the event, according to an ARDD statement.

The ARDD acknowledged the efforts of women in the armed and security forces, as well as the role of civil society organisations in advocating for gender-specific priorities and needs in the implementation of the JONAP, the statement said.

Within this framework, the ARDD is partnering with UN Women to encourage “strong, confident and passionate women” who believe they can make a difference in their societies and are able to join efforts in peace and security in their communities. This initiative is being supported by the governments of Canada, Finland, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, according to the statement. 

“The authorities in Jordan have committed themselves to adopting UN Resolution 1325, and Jordan initiated the creation of leadership institutions to empower and enhance the role of women in the country,” Basil Al Tarawneh, head of Al Nahda Arab Cultural Forum, was quoted in the statement as saying.

Samar Muhareb, CEO of the ARDD, said in the statement: “Jordan has made several achievements in terms of involving women at all levels. However, additional efforts are needed to enhance their participation in the strategic decision-making process, especially in light of regional humanitarian crises, which are affecting women and girls severely.”

The ARDD’s research on “Jordanian Women in the Context of Conflict Prevention and Resolution”, issued in November of 2019, revealed a “positive influence” of young women in promoting a culture of peace and tolerance in their communities.  It also showed that women’s self-perception is an “influential factor” in their motivation and willingness to engage in their communities, noted the statement.

“Evidence shows that women’s empowerment and participation contribute to sustainable peace, security and economic growth. Through the implementation of Jordan’s National Action Plan on UN Resolution 1325, we are promoting civil society and women grassroots’ direct and meaningful participation towards the full achievement of its objectives in an inclusive manner,” said Tamar Tavartkiladze on behalf of UN Women Jordan.

Col. Khaleda Al Twal, Chief of Public Security Directorate’s Women’s Police Department, highlighted the department’s focus on equal pay in order to promote gender equality, in adherence with UN requests.

Salma Nims, secretary general at the Jordanian National Commission for Women, highlighted the active participation of Jordanian civil society organisations in the implementation of Resolution 1325 and their partnership with security agencies.

Source: The Jordan Times

Saudi Arabia is set to launch a female football league, two years after women were first allowed into stadiums in the Gulf kingdom.

The league will play its matches in the capital, Riyadh, and two other cities.

The creation of the league is the latest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reforms in Saudi Arabia, which has long been seen as one of the world’s strictest societies.

Campaigners say much more remains to be done for women’s rights.

Officials say the aim of the latest move is to boost female participation in sport.

“The launch of the [league] bolsters women’s participation in sports at the community level and will generate increased recognition for women’s sports achievements,” the government-run Saudi Sports for All Federation said.

Saudi women were first allowed into a football stadium in January 2018 – the same year that the Gulf kingdom ended a decades-long ban on female drivers.

Last year, a royal decree allowed Saudi women to travel abroad without a male guardian’s permission and restaurant segregation was scrapped.

However, several prominent women’s rights advocates have been arrested even as the government has made reforms.

Source: BBC