A recent report from global rating agency Moody’s suggests that the increasing female participation in Saudi Arabia’s labor force could drive non-oil economy growth and improve average household incomes in the Kingdom.
According to Saudi Arabia’s labor market survey in February, women’s participation surged to 31.3 percent in the third quarter of 2020, up from 26 percent at the end of 2019. Even though, when considering the global percentages the number is still one of the lowest, the Kingdom is making progress as the figure is nearly double what it was in 2016.
Last year’s surge came as a result of the pandemic, which created a decline in the female labor force in most parts of the world, with large numbers of women facing increased childcare and household responsibilities due to lockdowns and school closures. This indicates that the increase in female labor force participation in Saudi Arabia is possible to continue, the report said.
As part of Saudi Vision 2030 goals, the Kingdom aims to make female participation in the labor force to be at 30 percent by 2030, now the country attained the target ahead of schedule. The elimination of the decades-old ban on women driving was the first big step, the government also formulated a subsidy program to support women with work-related commuting and childcare expenses.
Meanwhile, the global consultancy firm KPMG’s Female Leaders Outlook 2020 was published for the first time in the Kingdom. The survey, conducted in 2020, includes 675 female leaders from 52 countries, including Saudi Arabia.
Kholoud Mousa, partner and head of inclusion and diversity at KPMG in the Kingdom, stated that “COVID-19 is an accelerator for digitalization and has ignited change in many areas, so it could be seen as a catalyst for gender diversity, especially in the mid to long term.”
According to the survey, 47 percent of Saudi female leaders do not expect the pandemic to slow progress on diversity and 23 percent of Saudi female leaders believe bringing workplace quotas for women was a positive move, over double the global average. More than half of the female leaders in the Kingdom were confident about their company’s growth prospects over the next three years.