Gender equality still a far cry

Gender equality still a far cry


SURFING on the waves in the shores of oceans is not an art that can be done by anyone, but it’s a skill and passion that requires hard work and continuous training to learn how to stand up on surfboard with balance before thinking about riding the waves. Repeated attempts will make a person a professional surfer.

We know that an official would not be able to achieve his department’s objectives by just placing the vision slogan on the walls of his office. We have seen that the slogan will be something and the reality on the ground will be something else.

We do not deny that in the last few years most ministries in the Kingdom have changed their policies and programs to improve their performance but some of them announced the results of those changes before achieving their goals.

No ministry can achieve its objectives without focusing on the size and strength of its human resources, without knowing their strengths and weaknesses and without making use of their wasted energies through reforms. Measures should be taken to improve the condition of employees through financial incentives and providing them with peace of mind to perform their tasks efficiently with creativity.

No official should expect excellent performance of employees by placing the vision’s banner in every corner of the company. It is also inappropriate for a minister to inaugurate a program or project that was already inaugurated by a former minister. For example, we know very well that former health minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah launched the first phase of the Health Service Center (937) in 2013. About seven months ago, the new health minister inaugurated the same center after it was shifted to a new building.

During the publicity campaign, the media should have mentioned that the ministry has developed an existing service center instead of giving the impression that it was altogether a new project initiated by the new minister. The media should have explained the new facilities and services offered by the center to win public satisfaction. This is essential to remove doubts about new projects.

Last week, we read the news of justice minister inaugurating commercial courts. We know such courts existed in the Kingdom for decades. I wish the ministry of justice had clarified the aspects of modernization it introduced on commercial courts to prevent sending a wrong message to society and the world that such courts were launched for the first time in the country.

Ministries and government departments have been competing with one another in appointing women to leadership positions without considering whether their specializations and professional experience matched the ministry's nature of work. There is no explanation for this wrong trend except giving prominence to women having social weight. The ministries and departments believed that the placement of these women would enhance their reputation and they did not specify the responsibilities of these women leaders. Some departments have justified appointment of women as part of efforts to realize Vision 2030. But most of these women are inexperienced like surfers who do not know how to venture into shallow waters.

For the last two years Saudi Arabia has been working to achieve the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015. The goals are as follows: 1. No poverty 2. Zero hunger 3. Good health and well-being 4. Quality education 5. Gender equality 6. Clean water and sanitation 7. Affordable and clean energy 8. Decent work and economic growth 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure 10. Reduced inequalities 11. Sustainable cities and communities 12. Responsible consumption and production 13. Climate action 14. Life below water 15. Life on land 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions and 17. Partnerships for the goals.

The SDGs include gender equality in jobs, salaries and other civil rights. Saudi Arabia agreed to realize this objective and it has been working in this direction. If the ministries had understood these goals well, they would have appointed highly qualified and experienced women in such leadership positions.

Riding the wave requires professionalism, courage and quick thinking and action. Not just placing the vision slogan on office walls. We know that many officials who have decorated their offices with vision slogan have refused to recognize that female employees have the same right to training and salary like their male counterparts.

Some of these officials also refuse to accept that women’s work in a mixed atmosphere represents lack of decency and that begging in the street is better for them than working with men to earn a decent living. Those officials who have such thoughts would drown in an inch of water even if they pretend professionalism.