Following is a post by one of our Women in Innovation Summit speakers, Jean Brittingham. The full article can be seen here.
You may have read recently that Saudi Arabia was planning to build “women-only” industrial city, where Saudi women would be able to work and live in a man-free environment. It turns out that the story was widely misinterpreted, but it still created an enormous controversy. Supporters suggested that it would be a great commercial success, while detractors believed it would create further degradation of women’s rights in a country where few exist. It appears that in fact, there is no plan for a women-only industrial city, but rather a segregated industrial area for women, built to address the fact that women in Saudi Arabian workplaces do not generally feel welcome or even safe. This has led to near 30% unemployment among women and increasing disenfranchisement in much of the Saudi women’s community.
While I believe the solution may be well intentioned, it falls short of changing the basic cultural challenges that have created the current plight of women in Saudi Arabia and probably does little to encourage women to go to work. I wish them well in this experiment and hope that we are given insights into the results as they unfold. Read more…
Innovator and entrepreneur Jean Brittingham believes women are society’s relationship innovators and successful female entrepreneurs are THE key to sustainable economic growth and a thriving world. Prior to starting SmartGirls’ Way, a social venture dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs, Brittingham worked with a diverse client group of Fortune 100 companies, innovative start-ups, local and national governments, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs ). Her many leadership roles include: strategic advisor for the Consumer Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum; faculty member for the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership; and gender equity expert for the Katerva Challenge—the world’s largest platform for sustainable innovation. http://smartgirlsway.com