Woman sociologist removes common misconceptions about Saudi Arabia
“There is a huge misconception and misunderstanding in the rest of the world about the status of women in Saudi Arabia, which I realized while pursuing my higher studies in the United States and traveling abroad subsequently,”said Mona Salahuddin Al-Munajjed, a Saudi sociologist and one of the most influential Arab women, who recently published her new book “Saudi Women: A Celebration of Success.”
Al-Munajjed, who holds a Ph.D. in sociology from George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and a postgraduate degree in sociology from New York University, is an author of many books on social issues in the Gulf countries and spent 15 years working with various agencies of the United Nations as an adviser on programs and projects related to gender equality, women, youth and social development.
Speaking to Arab News here on Tuesday about her latest thought-provoking book “Saudi Women: A Celebration of Success,” the Riyadh-based award-winning sociologist said: “The book challenges the misconceptions and misunderstandings in other parts of the world about the status of Saudi women, citing their achievements, relevant statistics and responsibilities in these fluctuating times, while making extraordinary efforts with a bigger role in national development.
“All the women interviewed for this book have made a difference in society with their education, professionalism, socioeconomic impact and contributions to the Kingdom, becoming a role model and an inspiration for the younger generations.”
She said the book presents them as they have rarely been seen before and the narrative is based on a series of personal interviews with women of exceptional service, whose achievements during the past decade are a cause for celebration.
“I have attempted to present a glimpse into the lives of these influential women, who have experienced and often sought out challenges to make a difference,” she noted.
She maintained that women not only constitute half of Saudi society, but they are also the driving force behind the country’s future development as a 21st century society as the Kingdom is moving forward in encouraging sustainable development and the empowerment of women.
She applauded the positive changes under the patronage of the late King Abdullah as he gave women greater opportunities in society and polity by opening new opportunities in the Shoura Council, a tool they needed to take part in the decision-making process, thus making way for equal rights and opportunities for men and women at the higher executive level.
She added that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, being an intellectual and avid reader, strongly believes that Saudi women have a vital role to play.
Nowadays Saudi women are taking on increasingly prominent public roles as educators, businesswomen, bankers, doctors, scientists, philanthropists, writers, artists and decision makers in the government, she said, adding that through their achievements, they are moving beyond the traditional confines and exerting a positive influence on society. Their voices are being heard and they reflect the motivation, determination and ambition of all those women who are striving to become active members in society and in building their beloved country.