Empowering Saudi women

Glowork, an organization working for women empowerment in Saudi Arabia, has been at the forefront of national efforts to promote the role of women in the workplace.

Sitting with Glowork Founder and CEO Khalid Alkhudair, it is clear that many share the vision of women employment in the kingdom. When asked about the year so far for Glowork, Alkhudair provides a positive response and claims: “2014 has been a transformation of a year for Glowork. We are now at almost 70 employees kingdom-wide. It is great to see our expansion and workload increase.

“We have launched several initiatives with the Ministry of Labor along the lines of employ-ability of women. One key factor is establishing virtual offices allowing women to work from home. This is a pilot project in which we will hire 30 employees to work for Glowork virtually in a rural city from home as recruiters. Their mandate will be to help more than 4,000 women find jobs over the course of the next two years. Other projects include launching career counseling centers, funded by the government inside female universities. The idea behind this is to bridge the gap between the education sector and the labor market.”

In saying this, the kingdom still faces many issues in this regard and Alkhudair, who spoke with TRENDS ahead of the World Economic Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai, also recognizes this problem: “Women employment in the kingdom is still at a low, and this isn’t because nothing is being done, it is because there are so many have graduated in the last few years. More than 180,000 women have joined the private sector in the past three years, as opposed to only 60,000 in the past three decades. Various initiatives and subsidies provided by the government have come into play to encourage women to participate in the labor market, and to encourage employers to invest in employing women.”

Further to this, Alkhudair outlines the value that women in the workplace can add to the wider economy. And as cultural barriers slowly start to shift across the region, Alkhudair’s calls for empowering women couldn’t have come at a better time. Speaking about the future of women in the region, Alkhudair concludes with: “Once everyone understands how much women working can benefit the economy as a whole, we will start getting acceptance and men will start encouraging their daughters, sisters and wives to join the workforce. The private sector also needs to set examples for others to follow, and this should be done by highlighting key success stories as we need examples and leaders to follow.”

Khalid Alkhudair, Founder of Glowork