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‘Loud minority’ opposes Saudi women’s employment, lobbyist says

Top government officials support female participation in the workforce, Dr. Omair says

Hind Mustafa

Published: Updated:

It is not the government, but a minority of people with “loud voices” who oppose Saudi female participation in the workforce, a women’s rights lobbyist said.

“We never have issues with the government,” Dr. Basmah Mosleh Omair, CEO of Al-Sayedah Khadijah Bint Khuwailid Center, told Al Arabiya News on Thursday.

“Some in middle management positions have old ideologies against women that really delay progress,” she said, adding that top-level officials are “pro women.”

The center works to reform gender-biased employment regulations.

Dr. basmah omair facebook
Dr. basmah omair facebook

Societal support

According to a study released this week by the center, 79% of Saudi men and 90% of women supported female employment.

“People claimed resistance was much higher than acceptance, and the results prove that we have a normal society with both sides,” said Omair. “The next phase should concentrate on awareness programs.”

For example, “women and men didn’t know that the male guardian’s approval isn’t required for her employment. It’s not part of the labor law. They didn’t know that you can travel within the country without approval.”

The center works with the Ministry of Labor to ensure that it “doesn’t just open low-level skills for women,” Omair said.

“Now there are women employed in factories and sales, but we want more opportunities in leadership, as board members, in family businesses, [public] and private companies.”

Forthcoming reports from the center will cover sexual harassment at the workplace, maternity laws, and women’s impact in family businesses.