Dr. Amal Fatani, a Saudi woman of substance

Dr. Amal Fatani, a Saudi woman of substance

Samar Fatany

Samar Fatany The government is on a mission to set high standards for training and capacity building for young women providing them the opportunity to build long-term careers. Among many who are involved in this process is Dr. Amal Fatani, a Saudi associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology. She has made headline news as the head of Tata Consultancy Services which has succeeded in training and employing 1,000 highly-skilled Saudi women in business and IT services. Dr. Fatani also demonstrated her leadership qualities when she was head of the women’s department at King Saud University and during her term as a senior official at the Ministry of Higher Education. Her long record of success in promoting the empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia is highly commendable. Dr. Fatani is now taking a leading role in integrating women into the private sector. In 2013, she helped establish the first all-women Business Process Services (BPS) center in Riyadh, a joint venture of Tata Consultancy Services, GE and Saudi Aramco to promote a business process outsourcing industry (BPO) in Saudi Arabia. Under her leadership, the center has successfully initiated the BPS industry in the Kingdom.  Within a short period of two years, the center has trained highly-qualified women and promoted their careers in business and IT services fulfilling the national objective of creating jobs for women and strengthening economic diversification. The joint venture provides training and capacity building for women in a variety of key business outsourcing operations. These include specialization in professional areas such as Finance and Accounting, Human Resource Outsourcing, Supply Chain Management, Information Technology and Enterprise Data Management. The ambitious project seeks reputable global partners who can bring their experience of job creation and technology transfer. The BPO model provides high-tech services to train young women in the Kingdom for sustainable high-quality and well-paid jobs. Such initiatives that promote global interconnectedness can accelerate progress and develop knowledge societies. The ceremony celebrating the employment of the 1,000 highly-skilled Saudi women of the center hosted Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Health and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saudi Aramco; Dr. Mufrej Al-Haqbani, Minister of Labor; Abdullatif Al-Othman, Governor of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA); Shane Fitzsimons, Senior Vice President, GE Global Operations; Natarajan Chandrasekaran, CEO & MD of TCS and over 100 dignitaries from different government agencies and business executives. The high level of attendance at the ceremony is an indication of the serious support by the government and the private sector for the ambitious joint venture that can usher in a major change in the Saudi business environment. Our country today is confronted with immense challenges to sustainable development. Gender inequality remains a key challenge. Women represent 65 percent of university graduates; however, they remain an untapped human resource, their participation in the workforce remains at only 13 percent. We need to tap the full potential of women and remove the social and economic barriers that block their contributions for a more prosperous economy. It is also time to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls. They should not be denied decent work and economic empowerment. The achievement of sustainable development will not be possible if half of the population continues to be denied equal opportunities. Meanwhile, the full participation of women in society will also require labor rights and a safe and secure work environment. Women need equal opportunities for decent and sustainable jobs and entrepreneurship, motivation to encourage creativity and innovation, and incentives to promote small- and medium-sized enterprises. The Saudi population is growing at an alarming rate with almost 70 percent under the age of 25. Diversification, technological upgrading and innovation are very much needed to promote sustainable development and economic prosperity. Government support for joint ventures that provide training and capacity building for men and women alike is vital for the success of the national transformation process. The country will benefit from having a healthy workforce of men and women who are qualified and efficient, particularly in information and communications technology, to achieve higher levels of economic productivity. Ultimately, we need dedicated and highly-qualified women leaders like Dr. Amal Fatani to empower women and achieve economic prosperity. — Samar Fatany is a radio broadcaster and writer. She can be reached at samarfatany@hotmail.com