In its efforts to empower women, Saudi Arabia made the next step this week. Dr Lilac al-Safadi has been appointed as the first female president of a co-educational university in the kingdom.
Saudi Minister of Education Dr Hamad al-Sheikh announced on Thursday the first-ever appointment of such kind. The female president al-Safadi will be heading the Saudi Electronic University this fall, a public educational structure in the capital city that grants undergraduate/graduate degrees.
Earlier, Dr al-Safadi was the vice president and national technology officer at Microsoft and is a faculty member at the King Saud University. She earned her PhD in computer science from the University of Wollongong and worked as an executive director for over 20 years in business development and consulting, strategic leadership, and project management.
Thanks to the versatile reforms conducted in Saudi Arabia by Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, Dr al-Safadi was given an opportunity to become director of the Women’s Technology Incubator, which is in charge of developing the entrepreneurship centre and medical sciences departments.
Saudi Prince’s Vision 2030 plan is working
In addition to al-Safadi’s encouragement, Saudi Arabia on Thursday also announced the appointment of 13 women to the country’s Human Rights Council (HRC), with women now accounting for half of all board members.
The announcement is the Kingdom’s latest move to push more women into various fields in line with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to diversify the Kingdom’s economy and includes increasing women’s labor force participation.
Saudi Arabia has in recent years made great strides toward establishing gender equality in the country.
The Kingdom’s economy has made the most progress globally toward gender equality since 2017, according to a World Bank report released earlier this year.
Saudi Arabia was the country to make “the biggest improvement globally” since 2017, according to the World Bank press release, including advances in women’s mobility, sexual harassment, retirement age and economic activity.