Women’s empowerment and gender equality critical to ensuring inclusive future: Al-Bahar

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KUWAIT CITY, March 12: Ms. Shaikha Al-Bahar, Deputy Group CEO of the National Bank of Kuwait, took part in a panel discussion organized in Riyadh on International Women’s Day.

The “The Journey of Women to Success ” panel discussion brought together influential female executives from a variety of sectors to explore the challenges and opportunities women encounter throughout their careers.

Key issues including gender equality, diversity, and inclusion, as well as women’s role in driving economic growth were also discussed during the event.

Al-Bahar addressed the pressing need of empowering women and promoting equity at the workplace as the key to success, highlighting the necessity for additional programs to further support and encourage women to pursue leadership roles.

Vision 2030

“Without a doubt, Vision 2030 provided unprecedented support to Saudi women and promoted their leadership and empowerment. The significant economic impact of this transformative action will spread throughout the GCC and beyond Saudi’s future. As GCC citizens, We consider ourselves KSA’s partners in this forward-thinking objective for economic progress,” Al-Bahar said.

As Al-Bahar explained, empowering women in the Kingdom would lead to promising economic prospects across several booming industries since women empowerment have become a key factor in the sustained growth of the country’s human capital.

She also explained that Saudi women are now at the helm of several key industries, creating history, and acting as a source of inspiration to drive Saudi’s growth and prosperity.


Al-Bahar highlighted that NBK launched NBK RISE—a women-led leadership initiative designed by women for women to bring together corporate entities and female executives to elevate women in the workforce. This unique initiative engages numerous partners, with participating companies signing an NBK RISE pledge to increase women’s representation in leadership positions.

Al-Bahar also discussed NBK’s commitment to promoting gender equality and diversity in the workplace, highlighting the Bank’s numerous initiatives to support and develop female talents, including training programs, mentorship opportunities, and flexible working arrangements, thus closing the gender gap at NBK, with women’s participation rate at 43.6% and women in management at 29.2%.

“NBK was recognized with a prestigious award as the “Best Bank for Diversity and Inclusion in Kuwait” from Euromoney, a testament to our dedication and continuous efforts to build our culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Al-Bahar stated.

Leadership Qualities

During the panel discussion, Al-Bahar emphasized that leadership qualities are determined by individual experiences and strengths, not gender, noting that both men and women can be great leaders, as effective leadership involves key features including personality, communication skills, the ability to inspire and motivate others, and a clear vision for the future.

She highlighted that KSA is a great example of the potential of making a difference and opening new avenues for women to become successful leaders, entrepreneurs and ambassadors for positive change, adding that they represent a promising future for economic growth and the comprehensive renaissance the country is experiencing.

During the course of the discussion, Al-Bahar urged businesses to foster an open and supportive work environment that promotes diversity and gender equality by ensuring that men and women have equal access to leadership training and development programs.

She also underlined the need of diversity and inclusion training, as well as continuous efforts to raise awareness and promote equality, in combating gender-based stereotyping and discrimination that may impede women’s professional advancement.

Decision Making

Women in power, according to Al-Bahar, have added fundamental improvements to the decision-making process since they have a greater tendency to cooperate and take a proactive approach, resulting in more comprehensive and effective decision-making processes and, ultimately, improving business outcome and corporate financial results.

“Women have an insight into comprehending the different points of view and the demands of more than half of the society, which strengthens the value of their perspective. They are also recognized for their strength, flexibility, enthusiasm in learning, and scientific curiosity, as well as their capacity to empathize with people. These are all excellent attributes in leaders,” Al-Bahar explained.

To achieve this objective and guarantee a prosperous and inclusive future for all members of the society, Al-Bahar underscored the significance of empowering women and supporting gender equality.

Gender Wage Gap

Speaking of the biggest challenges facing women in the workplace, Al-Bahar said that the gender pay gap is a key barrier to women’s advancement in the corporate world. To combat this issue, businesses should undertake frequent pay reviews to identify and address any gender-based wage discrepancy to level the playing field for female employees.

“NBK takes pride in the fact that there is no gender wage gap. Furthermore, it has made considerable improvements to its female employees’ compensation and benefits to achieve greater equality among its employees,” Al-Bahar concluded.

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