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Addressing the rules, regulations and challenges of government in the Kingdom and the roles women will play, more than a dozen speakers, primarily King Saud University's Colleges of Arts and Education faculty, gathered for two days in December for a symposium titled “Woman Involvement in the Shura Council and Municipal Councils in Light of King Abdullah’s Decisions.
In 2015, Saudi women will be officially eligible to run for the Shura Council and municipal councils throughout the Kingdom and the Symposium was a response to King Abdullaziz’s decision made earlier in the year to allow women an active role in national and municipal government.
Assembled for the two-day event was a cross-section of male and female academics with expertise in a variety of areas, though featured speakers were largely women experts. Distinguished speakers and guests took advantage of the gathering to share perspectives and to contribute their unique and expert recommendations based on the four major topics presented.
Four major topics were presented in the symposium, two each day, and featuring a different set of panelists. Doctors Aziza Al-Naiem, Fawziya Abu Khaled and Mardiya Al-Burdisi, KSU Social Studies Department faculty members were assigned the task of recording feedback, recommendations and proposals drafted during the symposium
The symposium’s opening-day agenda included two sessions, the first titled “Regulation of the Shura Council, Municipal Councils, and Political Participation Concepts,” with the second session titled “Features of Active Women’s involvement in Membership of the Shura Council and Municipal Councils.
The opening session proved to be the busiest with four major speakers participating.
- Dr. Ibrahim Al-Qaeed, the CEO of Dar Al Marefa Company and a former Riyadh Municipal Council member.
- Dr. Fahd bin Hamoud Al-Anazi, a Shura Council member and Dean of KSU’s College of Law and Political Science.
- Dr. Wafa Mahmoud Taibah, a KSU professor in Educational Psychology and a Shura Council consultant.
- Dr. Fawziya Abu Khaled, a prominent Saudi poetess.
Dr. Al-Jazay Al-Shoubiki, a KSU’s Social Studies Department professor moderated the session addressing topics that included success factors of women's involvement in the Shura Council; influences of new media on Saudi women’s involvement and their impact on public opinion; and obstacles facing women's political involvement.
The day’s second session, moderated by Dr. Al-Jawahrah Al-Akrash, a professor in the Social Studies Department of the KSU College of Arts, featured three speakers:
- Dr. Fawziya Al-Baker, a professor in KSU’s College of Education whose research focuses on education, women and youth in the Arab world;
- Dr. Nourah Al-Adwan, a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic Language in the College of Education and Shura Council adviser since 2004; and
- Dr. Moudy Al-Degaither, a Psychology Department professor in KSU’s College of Education.
Second-day topics included, “The Role of Community People and Institutions back women’s involvement in both Ash-Shoura Council and Municipal Councils” and the “Women’s Involvement in the Shura Council and Municipal Councils Membership: Challenges and Proposals.
The first session, moderated by Dr. Lana Bin Said, a KSU Social Studies Department professor, featured a group of three KSU professors:
- Dr. Wassmeah Al-Mansour, an Arabic Language Department;
- Dr. Wafa N. Almobaireek, an associate professor in the College of Business and Director of the University's Entrepreneur Center; and
- Drs. Nadia Al-Masriy and Fatima Al-Said, Social Studies Department professors.
The final session, moderated by Dr. Ehsan Saddiq, a Social Studies Department professor in the KSU College of Arts, included:
- Dr. Aziza Al-Manea, a professor in KSU's College of Education and prominent voice in Saudi women's affairs;
- Dr. Wedad Al-Qahtani, an Arabic Language Department professor in KSU’s College of Arts; and
- Sana Al-Otaibi, a Social Studies Department professor in KSU’s College of Arts.
The symposium results are being assessed and should prove to be valuable in the evolving role of Saudi women in their nation’s society and governance.