By Hana'a AlSyead, CEO and Founder of Wujud
It was June 24, 2018. The whole world was watching us. Newspapers, news channels and social media pages –all were flooded with congratulatory notes for the women of Saudi Arabia. It was the historic day when the driving ban (for women) was lifted.
So, finally, we can drive, but what’s next?
For us in Saudi Arabia, women empowerment links directly to Saudi Vision 2030 and inclusive innovation is at the heart of it. The ultimate endeavor is to create a thriving society and economy, under a national development policy.
At this stage, one can’t help but ask some questions. How can women, who are now free to drive, contribute directly to the economic growth of the country? What can multi-national companies that operate in the country and local businesses do to generate more jobs for women? What other laws and government policies, in relation to women, do we need to help drive the goals of Saudi Vision 2030?
As mobility becomes accessible to women, many opportunities arise. By moving offices and opening new branches in the suburbs, we can shift the economic concentration from the main cities to other parts of the country that have their own, if not better, business and social benefits.
Like many other countries that have taken a customized approach towards their business environments, this can be done by promoting concepts like smart cities, freezones or business complexes and introducing policies that encourage businesses to shift locations and be effectively present across the country. Such business hubs offer inclusive innovation in its basic form, by bringing a lot more than just career options to the doorsteps of the people who live in the remote areas.
At Wujud, we believe that inclusive innovation must form the foundation of new initiatives that reward businesses and individuals on social and economic levels. This will foster and steer the march towards bigger goals like Vision 2030 and beyond. While it is not a new concept, it remains a fresh concept to be explored and put into practice.
We also recognize the fact that the intellectual contributions towards making inclusive innovation a reality will come from knowledge institutions that can develop the required foundation for this journey. It has to be a collective effort - a sustained effort that can bring about a seismic change.
As we keep the future in focus, a paradigm shift in our thinking and mindset is needed to make it possible for women to drive not only cars, but also drive their careers, the economy and the society.
What’s next for women in other parts of the world? Let us know @thisiswujud