Saudi Arabia celebrates female leaders in push to welcome more women to the workforce

The future role of women in Saudi Arabia's workforce
The future role of women in Saudi Arabia's workforce

Saudi Arabia has taken a major step in its bid to welcome more women into the workforce by hosting its first-ever business forum for women.

The Women in Leadership Economic Forum, called "Let's Talk About Tomorrow," aims to showcase the Kingdom's foremost female business leaders and demonstrate the important role of women in driving the future of its economy.

The two-day event, hosted in the Saudi capital Riyadh, was attended by more than 900 business leaders and entrepreneurs. It allowed networking opportunities between men and women — which is a relatively new practice in the country.

Giving women leaders a voice

Halah Alhamrani, Saudi Arabia's first female boxing trainer and founder of Flagboxing — short for "Fight Like a Girl" boxing — was one of the speakers at the event.

She told CNBC that she feels optimistic about the future role of women in the Kingdom and is happy to be a role model for women in business.

"Very early on in that journey, I realized that what I was doing was actually inspiring females," said Alhamrani.

"Through my own practice, it became my mission to actually show that we are capable, that women in Saudi Arabia are very capable, and that we do have a voice," she said.

Welcoming the next generation 

The event was also attended by 300 female university students, who despite accounting for more than half of Saudi Arabia's graduates often still struggle to find work.

Currently, women make up just 22 percent of the workforce in Saudi Arabia. The country is hoping to increase that figure to 30 percent by 2030.

The target is part of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's efforts to reshape the Saudi economy and reduce the Kingdom's reliance on oil revenue. The event was sponsored by Saudi Aramco, the country's state-run oil company.

Last year, the Kingdom announced that it would lift a ban that forbid women from driving. That plan is due to go into effect in June.

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