“If you’re not fully utilizing half the talent in the country, you’re not going to get too close to the top.”
-Bill Gates said of Saudi Arabia in 2007 World Economic Forum meeting
“The Saudi government’s denial of basic rights to women is not only wrong, it hurts Saudi Arabia’s economic development, modernization, and prosperity.”
It’s about the economy. A need for increased female labor participation and being attractive to Western investment.
Saudi Arabia can not remain a strictly oil-driven economy. Its “Vision 2030” plan seeks to increase Saudi Arabia’s non-oil revenue as it faces growing deficits and depletion of financial assets within five years.
On May 4, the King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued a decree concerning opportunities for women in his country.
This decree has two parts. The first part orders government agencies to list services that women can seek from the government without permission from a male guardian (usually a father or husband). Until now women could not obtain government services without the presence and permission of a male guardian. The second part of the decree directs organizations to provide transportation for female employees, in a country in which women are not permitted to drive…
These changes are not drastic liberalizations. However, they could present significant improvement in the lives of many women. It is not clear yet which government services will become available to women now, but there is a hope that this can lead to greater economic and even social autonomy. Some in the country believe that this decree means that women will no longer need a guardian’s consent to obtain a passport, work outside the home and receive medical care. Forbes