A woman in Saudi Arabia has been appointed editor-in-chief of a national newspaper, the first female journalist to be promoted to such a public position in a country with an appalling record on women’s rights.
Somayya Jabarti, a former deputy editor, has become the new boss at the helm of the Jeddah-based English daily Saudi Gazette, the paper’s departing head has announced.
“There’s a crack that has been made in the glass ceiling. And I’m hoping it will be made into a door,” Jabarti said after starting her new job, according to quotes carried by Al Arabiya News.
She added: “Being the first Saudi woman (editor-in-chief) is going to be double the responsibility … One’s actions will reflect upon my fellow Saudi women.” According to Jabarti, of around 20 Saudi Gazette reporters only three are male but the paper’s senior editorial positions are mainly held by men.
News of her appointment was made public by the departing editor-in-chief, Khaled Almaeena, who had held the position for over a decade. “Today I proudly leave my nominee, a female journalist — Somayya Jabarti — who will take the helm of the paper,” Almaeena wrote in an article published on Saudi Gazette’s website on Sunday. Almaeena will become the paper’s editor-at-large.
Before joining Saudi Gazette, Jabarti worked for a rival newspaper, Arab News. There, she rose from being a local desk editor to become the deputy national editor and finally the executive editor and managing editor.
Many Twitter users hailed Jabarti’s appointment but also referred to the kingdom’s restrictions on women drivers.
“She’s not allowed to drive, but Somayya Jabarti is #saudiarabia’s first female newspaper editor,” tweeted Katelyn Verstraten, a journalism student.