As the Saudi government continues its effort to encourage more women to join the workforce, a local cleric told a newspaper Tuesday that stay-at-home mothers should be offered government benefits.
“Western countries that don’t apply Sharia (Islamic law) offer monthly benefits to each woman,” Abdulziz Arab, member of the Muslim Scholars Association, was quoted as saying in al-Hayat daily. “We should be the country to do that.” Saudi Arabia is a rich country, he said, that spending money to preserve women’s dignity should not be an issue.
The Saudi government has pushed in recent years to help more women enter the job market. A recent study showed that 78.3% of female university graduates in the country are unemployed.
Earlier this year, the government banned men from working in lingerie stores and said only women can work in sales jobs in these stories. But the government’s new policy was faced with resistance by religious conservatives who fear that allowing women to work might threaten society's values.
Arab told al-Hayat that while he does not mind women working, he wants to make sure that such work must be in compliance with Sharia that “ensures unrelated men do not work at the same place with women.” Arab said he proposed a study for a new law to the Shura Council, an unelected body that serves as a parliament in Saudi Arabia.
“Every Saudi woman who stays at home to raise her children must be given at least SR3,000 ($800) per month,” he said.