First Saudi woman named Al-Khobar assistant mayor


By Khaled Al-Balahdi

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

DAMMAM — Iman Bint Abdullah Al-Ghamdi has become the first Saudi woman to hold a top municipal position when she was appointed assistant mayor of Al-Khobar municipality for information technology.

Mayor of the Eastern Province, Fahd Bin Mohammed Al-Jubair, said the municipality needed the female element with the rapid growth of malls and supermarkets where women are working.

"Ghamdi's appointment is within the municipality's endeavors to develop the civic work and within the need to give women leading positions in the municipal work especially after they have become members of the municipal councils," he said.

Al-Jubair recalled that the Kingdom's 2030 Vision intends to increase the women's contribution in the labor market from the present 22 to about 30 percent and said women should be empowered to assume leading positions in all sectors.

The municipality has established a female section in which a number of women work.

On her part, Ghamdi said she will work closely with her other women colleagues for the promotion of civic services being extended to the residents.

"I will do my best to further enhance the civic work of the municipality through the female section and the IT department," she said.

Meanwhile, a statistical report issued by the Ministry of Civil Service revealed that not a single Saudi woman was appointed at the rank of minister which was entirely dominated by men.

"There were about 104 men who held the rank of a minister. Men also monopolized the high jobs of excellent grades by 130," the report said.

According to the report, there was only one woman who held a job at the excellent scale.

Hind Al-Asheikh, chairperson of the Initiative for Women Empowerment told a workshop in Riyadh on Monday that there were 9,949 persons occupying leading government administrative and financial positions consisting of 9,794 men and only 154 women with the rate of 1.5 percent.

She said one woman only was appointed at grade 15 (the excellent scale) against 322 men.

"There were 482 men and eight women in grade 14, 1,748 men and 12 women in grade 13, 2,595 men and 28 women in grade 12 and 4,373 men and 103 women in grade 11," she said.

Al-Asheikh said there is a big gap between men and women in the senior government positions.

She said the majority of the high women positions are in the ministries of education and health.

Thuraya Obaid, a leading Saudi woman personality, said the system of government propagates equal rights and duties for men and women but on the real ground women are less privileged.

"The appointment of citizens in the leading government positions is influenced by the tribe, the social class and the family relationships," she said.

Obaid believes that the challenges facing Saudi women are not resulting from the system but from the wrong interpretation of the rule and regulations.