Beyond the imperative medical efforts, grassroots movements and advocacy play an important role in helping communities stay afloat amid the devastating coronavirus pandemic. In Saudi Arabia, several women’s empowerment organizations have taken on notable initiatives in response to the crisis, targeting socioeconomically disadvantaged households and individuals.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in most countries around the globe, 70 percent the health force is comprised of women, consequently representing the majority of professionals standing at the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19. To take it one step further, many women, in countries such as Saudi Arabia are leading initiatives to provide integrated help for families who are suffering the most from this crisis.
Al Oula Nonprofit Organization
As the first nonprofit in the Kingdom to fight poverty through early intervention, Al Oula is a pioneer in establishing social services for low income families in Jeddah. Their dedication to boosting children in support of their self-actualization and long-term autonomy has grown even stronger since the virus.
Female-run, the organization is lead by Dania Al Maeena. Previously the head of Zahra Breast Cancer Association and currently Co-Chair of the a C20 group Local2Global, Al Maeena is also a sports advocate and the co-founder of Riyadh United Women and Youth Sports Academy.
Her latest Al Oula campaign,“Alnass Libaed” (People Are for Each Other), has provided aid to 800 families thus far, aiding 4,000 beneficiaries, providing them with care packages of water, dates, a variety of canned foods and prepared meals donated by restaurants, as well as children’s toys. Furthermore, they have been providing online courses covering hygiene techniques in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus.
Saudi ADHD Society
Chaired by Princess Nouf bint Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Saud, this non profit has redirected their programs to a free online platform publishing a stream of content centered around the current crisis and how people with ADHD can better face the stress of the pandemic.
Honayda Serafi, a local fashion designer and board member of the Saudi ADHD Society specified to Arab News the importance of the project. Amid the medical, and consequently socio-economic crisis, “women are struggling with marital and sleep problems, legal and rent problems, loss of income, challenges accessing food and water, and homeschooling their children.”
In hopes of providing relief to families in distress, the ADHD Society has stepped beyond their usual aid and donated 600 laptops to children in need, as well as providing needy households with masks, sanitizers and financial assistance through local charities.
“Imagine if you had to take care of four children and elderly parents, and also a husband at home who’s out of work,” she went on. “It’s a lot of pressure for these women.”