Saudi Arabia and Socio-Economic Change in the Digital Age
January 26th, 2017
Since 2005, Saudi Arabia has been undergoing changes led by a social media revolution. With tweets and status updates as ammunition, the youth population called attention to its talent and creativity, and ever since, Saudi Arabia has been finding ways to pull its workforce into action. As the organizer of one of the most successful social media campaigns stemming from that revolution, financial analyst and advocate Reem Asaad will speak of her experience working in the digital age to bring about socioeconomic progress. Asaad's campaign, which launched in 2008, led to the inclusion of women in the retail workforce per monarchical decree in 2011. She will paint a picture of the status of similar expansionary economic policies being adopted by Saudi Arabia, and how such policies may lead to greater financial literacy across the Arab World.
About the speaker:
Reem Mohammad Asaad is a Saudi Arabian financial adviser and writer with 13 years of corporate experience in investment management and finance. She holds a B.S. in Chemistry from King Abdulaziz University and Masters of Business Administration and Financial Investment from Northeastern University. In 2008, she added socio-economic welfare to her personal mission. Her first independent project was the “Lingerie” campaign calling for better employment opportunities for women and improved consumer rights. The campaign garnered international recognition and support, stirring many underlying issues about women in Saudi Arabia and raising national awareness on women and consumer rights. The campaign ended successfully in 2011 when the Ministry of Labor enforced a law allowing women to work freely in the retail sectors, instantly creating thousands of jobs kingdom-wide. As a result of her efforts, Reem was ranked the third most powerful Arab for 2012 by www.arabianbusiness.com. Her work was documented in three international books in English, Italian, and Swedish. Reem carries on her mission to improve financial awareness and women’s economic rights in Saudi Arabia. She is an economic columnist and an international guest speaker in a variety of academic institutions and conferences. A married mother of three daughters, Reem lives in Jeddah with her family.
About the moderator:
Dr. Jennifer McCleary-Sills is the Senior Program Officer for Gender Equality at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She is a social and behavioral scientist with 15 years of experience designing and evaluating international development projects in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, and the Pacific Islands. Prior to joining the Gates Foundation last month, Jennifer was the Director of the Global Program on Violence, Rights and Inclusion at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) in Washington DC. At ICRW (2009-2013, 2015-2016), she served as Principle Investigator for more than a dozen studies on gender inequality in global development, focusing on a range of issues: gender-based violence, demobilization, sexual and reproductive health, economic empowerment, education, rights of LGBTI people, post-conflict reintegration interventions, land and property rights, and access to justice. She also provided technical assistance and training on gender integration to international financial institutions and large international NGOs. During her tenure with the Gender Cross-Cutting Solution Area at the World Bank Group (2013-2015), Jennifer was the Senior Gender-Based Violence & Development Specialist. She co-authored the flagship World Bank publication "Voice & Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity" and was the Bank’s lead on the multi-sectoral Violence Against Women and Girls Resource Guide, a tool for integrating VAWG prevention and response across development sectors. She has authored numerous peer-reviewed articles and institutional publications on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Jennifer holds honors degrees from Yale University (BA) and the Boston University School of Public Health (MPH), and a PhD from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is an adjunct faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.