Saudi Princess Reema Fights For Breast Cancer Awareness & 5 More Of Her Best Feminist Moments
Supporting women and women's health is a mission carried out by people all over the world, and one notable Saudi Arabian woman just took a huge step to empower women to take care of themselves. Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud launched 10KSA, a breast cancer and health awareness campaign in the kingdom, which she announced during a keynote conversation at SXSW in Austin, Texas. According to Fast Company, 10KSA stands for getting 10,000 women to become ambassadors for health awareness in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It's a historic step from a prominent figure. Princess Reema is the granddaughter of the late King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud. And she's used her influence in many feminist ways for the betterment of women in Saudi Arabia.
Princess Reema, a founding board member of the Zahra Breast Cancer Association, has long worked to raise awareness of breast cancer, and it can be especially important in the conservative Muslim country where it's difficult, if not nearly impossible in some areas, to talk about women's health issues. She told Fast Company:
We take this dialogue to the rural areas and villages, where it is completely different, because we need kick up breast cancer as a mainstream dialogue, where there is no shame in discussing that part of the body. We face a lot of societal issues where a woman doesn't want to admit illness because she doesn't want to be discarded and replaced by another women. A lot of times these women will have illnesses that are not just breast cancer, but many others, and they just keep persevering and not admitting pain, or admitting suffering.
But beyond the 10KSA campaign, Princess Reema has done so much to empower women in the kingdom. Here's some of the things she's done that should be celebrated for their feminist influence in Saudi Arabia.
She Encouraged Women To Climb Mount Everest
In an interview with Riyadh Connect, Princess Reema detailed the idea she came up with to encourage Saudi women to climb Mount Everest to raise breast cancer awareness. She told the website:
When a woman is told she is diagnosed with cancer, she or any individual would feel its insurmountable. So the concept of something being insurmountable, something that you have to strive for to get over, that is daunting and large, all that brought to mind the idea of climbing a mountain and the largest mountain of course is Mt Everest.
She's A CEO & Was Awarded For It
Princess Reema is the CEO of ALFA International, a luxury retail corporation where she created her own Baraboux handbag brand, and the company also operates the Harvey Nichols department store. She's been recognized for her hard work, too. In 2008, she was named one of the Top 20 Arab Businesswomen, and she's been named to Business of Fashion's Top 500.
She Empowers Women In The Workforce
Using her knowledge and stature in the business community, Princess Reema has worked to get more Saudi women into the workforce. She made room at Harvey Nichols' Riyadh store to employ an equal amount of women and men as sales clerks, which was considered radical (just a year or so ago). She told Fast Company:
The second a woman is responsible for her own finances, she'll want to explore more of the world for herself and become less dependent. ... The training is the investment that we're making in these ladies. I want women to have better opportunities. ... It's just social perception. And that's going to change.
She Defends All Women's Appearances
For the 10KSA campaign, a short film was created to show breast cancer survivors, doctors, and loved ones. Princess Reema, who says she tries to "judge a woman based on her capability," ensured women of all appearances were included. She said:
I wanted to make sure that I showed a full spectrum of the Saudi society. So yes, some people cover their faces and some people don't. Some people are wearing lab coats, other people are wearing their abayas. It was really important for me to show the full spectrum of my community
She Helped Earn A Guinness World Record
Returning to breast cancer awareness, Princess Reema was part of a Guinness World Record when she organized a Pink Ribbon awareness chain in Saudi Arabia. More than 3,950 women came together in Jeddah to link together in the shape of a pink ribbon, which launched the "A Woman's Stand" campaign. According to The Saudi Gazette, at the launch, Princess Reema said:
Let it be known that as of this day, ignorance is no longer an excuse and no woman should be left to suffer in silence.