200930 Saudi bikes
Saudi Arabia’s commitment to creating opportunities and driving progress across different facets of society is palpable Image Credit: Supplied

In the ever-evolving landscape of global affairs, Saudi Arabia’s recent assumption of the chairmanship of the Commission on the Status of Women stands as a significant milestone in the kingdom’s journey toward advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment on a global scale.

This move, however, has not been devoid of controversy and skepticism, particularly from certain quarters of biased Western media, who have labeled it as ‘Womenwashing,’ drawing parallels to previous unfounded accusations of ‘sportswashing’ against Saudi Arabia.

Yet, amid the cacophony of criticism and misperceptions, it’s crucial to delve deeper into Saudi Arabia’s genuine commitment to promoting women’s rights and empowerment, which remains steadfast and unwavering. The kingdom has consistently demonstrated its readiness to collaborate with the international community in advancing women’s rights, as exemplified by its leadership role in the Commission.

This leadership position not only underscores Saudi Arabia’s determination to drive positive change but also reflects its desire to foster inclusivity and equality on the global stage.

At the helm of this transformative journey are Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and King Salman, whose visionary leadership has charted a bold course with Saudi Vision 2030. This ambitious reform agenda encompasses a wide array of initiatives aimed at diversifying the economy, enhancing global competitiveness, and fostering social development.

From substantial investments in professional sports leagues to groundbreaking reforms in various sectors, Saudi Arabia’s commitment to creating opportunities and driving progress across different facets of society is palpable.

Saudi Vision 2030

Protecting rights and dignity

Despite the persistent scrutiny and criticism, the strides made by Saudi women in recent years are undeniable. Breaking barriers in diplomacy, assuming leadership roles in major corporations, and actively participating in various fields, Saudi women are playing an integral role in propelling the nation forward and reshaping societal norms. Moreover, legal reforms aimed at protecting the rights and dignity of divorced women underscore Saudi Arabia’s dedication to upholding equality for all its citizens.

While the path to progress may sometimes seem gradual, Saudi society is undergoing a profound transformation, marked by increasing opportunities and inclusivity for women. Long-term residents and observers alike bear witness to the remarkable shifts occurring, fueled by a collective determination to embrace progress and build a more prosperous and equitable future for all.

As Saudi Arabia continues on its trajectory of reform and modernisation, it extends an open invitation to skeptics and critics to engage in constructive dialogue and witness firsthand the remarkable transformations underway. By fostering open dialogue and understanding, the kingdom aims to bridge the gap between perception and reality and showcase its genuine commitment to women’s empowerment and societal advancement on a global stage.

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However, this journey toward progress is not without its challenges and complexities. The transition toward a more inclusive and equitable society requires concerted efforts, not only from the government but also from civil society, the private sector, and the international community as a whole. It necessitates a nuanced approach that acknowledges the cultural, social, and historical contexts within which these reforms are taking place.

Moreover, it’s essential to recognise that meaningful change takes time. While Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in recent years, there is still much work to be done to address systemic barriers and entrenched inequalities. This requires sustained commitment, dialogue, and collaboration at all levels of society.

Saudi Arabia’s leadership in the Commission on the Status of Women represents a pivotal moment in the kingdom’s ongoing commitment to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. Despite the challenges and criticisms, the kingdom remains resolute in its pursuit of progress and inclusivity. By fostering open dialogue, embracing diversity, and championing the rights of all its citizens, Saudi Arabia is laying the foundation for a more prosperous and equitable future for generations to come.

I invite all those overseas doubters in the media to visit the country and witness with their eyes the changes before drumming up charges of women washing from their cubbyholes back home based on slanted versions in their press. That would indeed mouthwash their unfair charges.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator.