Women constitute 13% of Saudi workforce: stats agency

Experts attribute low proportion of Saudi women in the workforce to social customs

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Saudi women occupy only 13 percent of private and public positions occupied by nationals despite accounting for 51 percent of Saudi graduates, according to statistics from the Central Department of Statistics and Information.

The department’s statistics included candidates graduating from both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and from universities in the Kingdom and abroad, the Makkah daily reported.

The statistics also show that 64 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates from public and private universities in the Kingdom in 2010, 2011 and 2012 were women.

Experts attribute the low proportion of Saudi women in the Saudi workforce to social customs and inappropriate working environments for female staff in some sectors.

Nawaf al-Dhabib, an expert at the Arab Society for Human Resources Management, said the concept of women working in society was still relatively new.

He said: “It is not an accurate comparison to compare men and women graduates at this stage in our societal development.

“Many unemployed women graduates choose to stay at home. We need the official authorities to intervene in order to open up women’s employment to all sectors of the Kingdom.”

He added that nowadays women want to support their families with their income and bonuses, a social trend that did not exist before.

“The income of both wife and husband has become essential to the household. This will encourage women to go out to work and will mobilize the current job market in the Kingdom to be more accepting of women.”

In his view, the services and medical sectors will provide the most jobs for women, especially with the Ministry of Health’s new expansion projects.

“The private sector was quicker than the public sector to recruit women because private sector establishments are investments looking after employees’ qualifications and contribution to the organization.”

Mohammad al-Khunaizi, a member of the human resources committee at the Shoura Council, said Saudi women’s participation in the workforce was indeed low but with the spread of fake Saudization, where Saudi employees are effectively paid a minimal fee to sit at home, the statistics are inaccurate.

He said: “The Ministry of Labor needs to define the right environment for women to work in. This includes setting sexual harassment laws to protect women and ease their fear.

“There are many reforms that need to be implemented before women are employed in all sectors.”

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