Some 32 agreements with Saudi companies were signed in Jeddah on Wednesday to employ 5,300 Saudi women in various fields during the current year.
The agreements form part of the initiative by Bab Rizq Jameel, one of the social initiatives of Abdul Latif Jameel.
Attending the signing ceremony, Assistant Undersecretary for the Affairs of Special Programs at the Ministry of Labor Dr. Fahd Sulaiman Al-Tekhaifi said that the tourism sector is one of the promising sectors for women to find employment.
“We do not ban women from working in the tourism sector as long as the environment is suitable for them,” he said, adding, “Women have the right to work side by side men, get the same rights and work benefits.”
The ministry is now working on replacing expatriate men by Saudi women in tailoring shops by organizing workshops in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.
“We have examined the challenges that might face women in this sector. We are working on organizing this sector. We have stopped work visa for foreigners coming to the Kingdom as tailors,” said Al-Tekhaifi.
He said unemployment among Saudi women has dropped from 35 percent in 2011 to 32 percent in 2013. This, he said, is due to the private sector’s efforts in employing women and abiding by ministry’s regulations in this regard. The number of women employed by the private sector has jumped from 50,000 in 2009 to 4,54,000 in 2013. This has changed the dynamics of the labor market, the official said.
The ministry wants women to be productive in society and advance from being saleswomen to owners of businesses, he added.
Al-Tekhaifi said they have not identified specific sectors that women can work, but have set regulations for setting a suitable environment where women can work.
“The ministerial decision regarding employment of women is clear. It states that women are allowed to work in any sector as long as these jobs are suitable for them. The work environment is the main challenge. Therefore, the ministry will be strict about it and impose heavy penalties on violators,” he said.
Al-Tekhaifi said there is a need for more cooperation among different government bodies, especially the education sector. Unifying the efforts of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry and Labor along with the Ministry of Trade “is essential.”
The ministry will soon have a National Observatory which will have a data of all employees – both Saudis and expatriates, he announced.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 17, 2014SHOW MORE