Dr. Caroline McGroary ACA on women’s education in Saudi Arabia

Education for women in Saudi Arabia

Dr. Caroline McGroary is a Chartered Accountant and Lecturer who is passionate about the role of education in transforming lives and society.

We asked Caroline the following questions about her work as a lecturer, with a particular focus on her experiences of educating women in Saudi Arabia and the impact of this work. We also asked about her motivation for joining the Irish FinBiz2030 taskforce and what she hopes to bring to this group.

About Caroline

Dr. Caroline McGroaryOriginally from Donegal, Caroline trained as a Chartered Accountant with Deloitte. Soon after qualifying, she joined Dublin City University (DCU) as a Lecturer in Accounting in its Dublin campus. Since joining DCU Caroline has lectured on a range of programmes, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, in both Dublin and in the DCU campus in Saudi Arabia. Caroline’s holistic approach to education has allowed her to successfully align her work in the classroom with burgeoning global social issues such as gender equality and sustainability. Her work has been presented at international conferences and has been nominated for several awards for innovation, excellence in teaching and impact. Caroline recently received the Chartered Star Award from Chartered Accountants Ireland and will represent the profession at the One Young World summit in 2021.

Can you describe your work?

There are many aspects to my role as a lecturer with the most rewarding being working with students, from various different backgrounds, to help them achieve their educational goals. I am also a strong advocate of linking my work in the classroom with industry and the wider socio-cultural environment, as well as providing opportunities for my students to be active citizens in their local communities.

Why did you move to the Middle East?

In 2013, DCU entered a partnership with Princess Norah University (PNU), the largest women’s only university in the world. Excited by this opportunity, I moved to Saudi Arabia to be part of this ground-breaking partnership in the education of Saudi women.

How and why did you get involved in FinBiz2030?

I first heard of FinBiz2030 through two One Young World Ambassadors, Sinead Fox-Hamilton and Michael Walls, as well as the Chartered Accountants Ireland Chartered Star competition. The goals of FinBiz2030 are to mobilise the finance and business community globally to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Given that the UN SDGs are something that I, too, have been actively working towards and am very passionate about, I knew I wanted to get involved with this group.

What has been the impact of your work to date?

Through both my work as a lecturer and my engagement with the FinBiz2030 taskforce, I have had the opportunity to create awareness about the UN SDGs, as well as being able to support the achievement of some of the goals. My work in Saudi Arabia has given me the opportunity to educate women (SDG 4 Quality Education) in a country which has historically ranked quite low in the global gender equality rankings (SDG 5 Gender Equality). I have also had the opportunity to develop initiatives centered around increasing the physical activity levels of Saudi citizens, and therefore, promoting health and well-being (SDG 3 Good Health and Well-being).

Most recently, I developed a financial literacy initiative in response to recent statistics which reported that one of the contributory factors to gender inequality in Saudi Arabia was the low financial literacy levels of Saudi women. This initiative served as an example of how SDG 4 could act as an enabler of SDG 5. These initiatives not only directly impacted on the lives of our students, but also empowered them to bring this knowledge outside the classroom and drive change in their local communities. We were taken aback by the support these initiatives received at governmental level, from global industry partners, on social media, and most importantly, in the community.

What experience will you bring to your role leading a workstream in the Irish Taskforce?

Firstly, it has been such an enjoyable experience getting to know the different members of the Irish FinBiz2030 taskforce, and particularly, the members of the financial literacy group. As regards my contribution to the group, I would hope that my experiences of developing SDGs initiatives, and bringing them from the concept stage through to implementation, will be a source of guidance and inspiration. I am also eager to learn about the experiences of others and look forward to working together on some meaningful and impactful projects.

What role would you like to see current and future leaders take in driving forward change on the UN SDGs?

First of all, I believe that every person, regardless of background, age or experience, has the opportunity to be a leader when it comes to achieving the UN SDGs. I would therefore encourage anyone who would like to see change, whether it be in their own lives, their workplace, local communities, at a national, or global level, to find a cause they really believe in, work on it, on a regular basis and always be guided by that purpose.

Call to Action – How can others take tangible actions and make a small difference?

I believe a great place to start is at home. For example, a personal or family decision to choose one (or more) of the SDGs, learn about it, and make choices aligned with it, is a really positive first step and will make a lasting impact over the long term. I also believe that there is great benefit in joining a group such as the Irish FinBiz2030 taskforce. These groups provide a platform to learn from the work that others are doing, and also affords opportunities to work on impactful projects.