More efforts needed to bridge gender, generation gaps in labor market: Saudi conference

From left to right: Moderater Imtenan Al Mubarak with panelists Asma Siddiki, Mona Hammami and Haifa Jamal Al-Lail at T20 Inception Conference in Riyadh. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)
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Updated 22 January 2020

More efforts needed to bridge gender, generation gaps in labor market: Saudi conference

  • Despite efforts to encourage women into work, more still needed to be done

RIYADH: Bridging gender and generation gaps was vital to inclusive growth and sustainable development in the labor market, a Saudi symposium has been told.

Despite efforts to encourage women into work, more still needed to be done, a panelist at the Think 20 (T20) Inception Conference in Riyadh said on Monday.

Asma Siddiki, head of special projects at Prince Mohammed bin Salman College, said: “Women participate less in labor markets, and face glass walls and ceilings, but this can be addressed when there is an adequate opportunity for women to bridge the gap.”

Speaking during a session titled “Bridging gaps: Empowering women and preparing youth,” moderated by Imtenan Al-Mubarak, head of the strategy management office at King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), Siddiki pointed out that working to overcome gender and generational gaps was “key to achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development.”

She added that the time had come to break the gender glass and create equal opportunities for women and youth.

“Women participate less because we are not producing adequate opportunity for them. We need to create adequate facilities and services. There are some areas where female participation is poor, because we have not created adequate facilities for women to feel safe and participate actively.”

Siddiki also stressed the need for more training of women as teachers who in turn would help in the creation of female leaders of the future.

Mona Hammami, senior director at the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, said that despite developments in social and economic diversity, opportunity gaps for women remained. “To bring women to the workplace, there is a need to break barriers or the glass walls that stop them from active participation.”

She added that preparing millennials, both male and female, for the labor market would pay dividends for the country but feared that urbanization and overpopulation in many cities was blocking opportunities.

Haifa Jamal Al-Lail, president of Effat University, said the G20 had formed a B20, C20, L20, U20, W20, and Y20, and suggested the setting up of an Education 20 (E20). “Education is more important to empower women and prepare youth for sustainable development,” she said.

The two-day T20 Inception Conference brought together experts from all over the world to discuss a range of essential issues covering climate, energy, migration, youth, innovation and technology, multilateralism, economic development, finance, food security, and access to water.

Initiated during the Mexican G20 presidency in 2012, the T20 engagement group has continued under successive host nations of the world leaders’ summit. Its first meeting was held with the participation of think tanks from 15 countries including Australia, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Singapore, Turkey and South Korea.


World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

Updated 06 April 2020

World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

  • Be strong, Pope Francis says
  • US faces ‘Pearl Harbor moment’

JEDDAH: World leaders urged people on Sunday to show courage and strength in fighting the coronavirus pandemic as the global death toll approached 70,000 from more than 1.25 million cases of infection.

Pope Francis described the outbreak as a tragedy, Queen Elizabeth of the UK offered her personal thanks to frontline health workers, and Americans were warned that they faced the “hardest and the saddest week” of their lives.

Saudi Arabia reported five more deaths from the virus, bringing the total to 34. The number of confirmed cases rose by 206 to 2,385, the highest among Gulf Arab states.

The Foreign Ministry will register requests this week from Saudis abroad who want to return home, with priority given to the elderly, pregnant women and people in countries most affected by the pandemic. Those who return are subject to a 14-day quarantine, and about 11,000 hotel rooms have been set aside for them.

The Health Ministry warned that too many people were ignoring advice to stay at home. “Unfortunately, there is still more than 40 percent mobility in shopping and outdoor activities. This is a very alarming percentage,”ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said.

“We are all in this boat together, and those who risk their own lives by going out for no urgent need are risking everybody else’s lives too.”

The six Gulf states have reported 6,757 cases of infection and 54 deaths from the coronavirus. The UAE, where 1,505 people have been infected and 10 have died, will increase its stockpile of strategic goods and waive residency visa fines for the rest of the year, said the prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

In Rome, on Palm Sunday, a Christian religious festival, Pope Francis celebrated mass by live stream with St.Peter’s Square empty of the usual huge crowds.

“Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: ‘Courage, open your heart to my love’,” he said.

Queen Elizabeth gave a rare special address to the British people, only the fourth in her 68-year reign. She praised frontline health workers and more than 750,000 people who volunteered to help the state-run National Health Service.

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge, and those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” she said.

In the US, as the death toll approached 10,000, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said: “This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives … our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.”