The Brookings Institute recently published data that shows that Saudi Arabian managed to increase the participation of women in the workforce by 64% in just two years. Namely, the rate went from 20% in 2018 to 33% in 2020.
The increase is visible across all education levels and ages. However, there are two trends that stand out particularly — increased employment among women with secondary education and women 40–54.
After years of struggling with gender inequality, Saudi Arabia included it in its strategic documents. Participation of women in the Saudi workforce was one of the aims of the program Vision 2030 through which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman initiated groundbreaking changes in the country’s economy.
Experts believe that these positive changes come as a result of a series of gender equality reforms. Since 2018, Saudi Arabia lifted all bans that prevented women from driving, ended gender segregation, and conducted an extensive reform of laws concerning guardianship and family.
While these changes show significant progress, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch still warn of many shortcomings that were not affected by the recent reforms. Namely, women still require male approval to marry and remain discriminated against when it comes to issues of divorce and violence.