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Muna AbuSulayman is a Saudi Arabian media personality, whose television show, Kalam Nawaem, which means “soft talk” in Arabic, is the longest running and most popular social issues show in the Middle East. In this podcast, AbuSulayman discusses pushing social boundaries, including on topics such as gender equality.

“A utopian day would be for a woman to be able to realize her full potential in the way that she wants it within her capabilities. And I think that’s a human rights issue versus an economic issue.”

AbuSulayman says women’s role in the economy in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world faces entrenched views.

“I think that people believe if a woman comes in, she’s taking a job away from a man. Also, I don’t think they believe inclusiveness actually makes better decisions. This is something that we have to work on to make sure people understand that when women participate in decision-making the outcome will be better.”

AbuSulayman says a change in mentality and narrative will go a long way to changing men’s views about women in the work force.

“I remember somebody telling me that you train and you spend a lot of money on development for a professional woman, and then she gets married, has a baby, and then leaves. And I respond that men also leave because they get a better offer! When you’re training somebody, you should see it as an investment in the future of the country and you should stop thinking of it only as an expense that is lost.”

Listen to the podcast: