Saturday, July 31, 2010

New reforms urged to support Saudi businesswomen

by Neeraj Gangal

A new study on women’s businesses in Saudi Arabia has presented eight recommendations to give Saudi women the same opportunities as women entrepreneurs in other Arab nations, according to a report.

The Arab News daily said on Friday that the study ‘Businesswomen in Saudi Arabia: Characteristics, Challenges, and Aspirations in a Regional Context’, examines the business-enabling environment for women entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia and highlights the personal characteristics and business profiles of women business owners.

According to the Saudi-based daily, the report compares Saudi women entrepreneurs with their counterparts in five Arab countries: Jordan, Bahrain, the UAE, Lebanon and Tunisia.

The report is intended to strengthen “the understanding of the business and regulatory environment for Saudi businesswomen, to contextualise the situation of Saudi women entrepreneurs through comparison between them and other female entrepreneurs in the region and to identify and address the business challenges these women face in order to create a more supportive environment,” Arab News said.

The study made eight specific recommendations to Saudi policymakers to improve the situation of businesswomen:

The report urged policymakers to establish a Ministry of Women’s Affairs to monitor the implementation of related royal decrees and to devise a national strategy for women’s transition into the economy.

It suggested the appointment of female Shoura members to ensure that the interests of Saudi businesswomen and women in general are represented.

It called on to eliminate the requirement for women to appoint a male manager in businesses that serve both sexes.

The report also asked for ease in restrictions on mobility for women, in terms of public transportation, driving and international travel.

It suggested the creation of registration categories for the types of businesses that are in demand by businesswomen, such as beauty salons and day-care centres, and identify the process for creating new registration categories in the future.

The report called on to commission further research on how to increase the effectiveness of businesswomen’s access to government services by improving female sections as well as the main centres in government agencies rather than a direct channel for them to receive government services.

It urged policymakers to launch a nationwide public campaign to promote women’s economic participation and support the implementation of existing Royal Decrees.

The report also suggested that Saudi policymakers ease hiring practices for businesswomen in areas that require international female expertise or that are unable to be met by Saudi female labour. This includes studying the possibility of granting work permits to non-Saudi women residing in Saudi Arabia on non-work visas.

The 68-page report was co-authored by Noura Alturki and Rebekah Braswell and published by the Monitor Group and Al-Sayedah Khadijah Bint Khuwailad Businesswomen’s Center of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This was done with the support of the Centre of Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Arab News said.

“This focus comes at a time when we are witnessing a rapid and increased investment in our country’s human resources and economic development,” said Princess Adelah Bint Abdullah, president, Al Sayedah Khadijah bint Khuwailad Businesswomen’s Center.

“Fundamental to this investment has been the inclusion of regulations that encourage greater involvement of women in our work force. The impact of this support can be seen through the growth, productivity and innovation of Saudi Arabia’s women-owned businesses. My wish is that this report will highlight the progress and determination of these businesswomen and serve as a foundation for researchers interested in the socioeconomic development of our beloved country.”

Source : Arabian Business

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