Saudi Gazette reportNEW YORK — The giant leaps that Saudi Arabia has recently made and continues to make while implementing historic reforms have put the Kingdom on top of the list of 190 countries that are most advanced and reformed in the areas of empowering women and strengthening their role in building society, the United Nations heard.Addressing the first regular session of the Executive Council of UN for Women on Monday, Mona Alghamdi, a member of Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, said women’s empowerment, economic advancement, and gender equality are at the forefront of these reforms. The virtual session was held under the item of economic flexibility, including social protection and economic stimulation.Mona reiterated the Kingdom’s full commitment as an effective partner of UN to work closely and constructively, in line with internal regulations and policies, to advance women and empower them as an effective partner in building societies, especially during these difficult times the world is witnessing due to the pandemic, and over the coming years.“Despite the great challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative effects on all aspects of life, the Kingdom continued to move toward its goals and ambitions pertaining to the economic empowerment of women. The Kingdom is witnessing major reforms and transformations,” she said while citing the report of the World Bank titled “Women, Business and the Law 2020.”In recognition of the importance of empowering Saudi women and enhancing their participation as a full and essential partner in advancing society and promoting economic development, she stressed, Saudi Arabia has worked on adopting a package of legislative reforms and introducing regulations and policies toward the advancement and empowerment of Saudi women, specifically in the areas of their mobility, workplace, entrepreneurship, and pensions.“The Kingdom has taken strict decisions towards criminalizing sexual harassment at workplace in the public and private sectors by enacting legislation and criminal penalties to protect women from gender discrimination and sexual harassment,” she said.Mona said that Saudi Arabia encouraged women to compete in the entrepreneurial sectors by introducing legal amendments aimed at protecting women from discrimination in the work sectors, including a ban on gender discrimination from accessing financial services, and sacking of women during their pregnancy and maternity leave.“Equality in the retirement age is one of the most important reforms that are implemented through equalizing the retirement age for men and women at 60 years of age, which contributed to extending their years of service and benefiting them from all benefits and payments and extending the period of their effective contribution to the advancement of the national economy,” she added.

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