Saudi working women seek recognition

As more and more Saudi women join the labor force, the calls for recognizing women’s contributions to society have grown

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It is common to hear about the social contributions and positive influences made my men in Saudi society. Since men make up a majority of the labor force and have more opportunities than women, prosperity does not seem to be as elusive as it is for women.

However, as more and more Saudi women join the labor force, the calls for recognizing women’s contributions to society have grown louder. While there are still a significant number of people who believe women should stay at home and raise children, a growing-number of people are condemning regressive mentalities that exaggerate the achievements of men while completely ignoring the vital contributions made my women in shaping society and the country’s economy, Al-Riyadh daily reported.

Maryam Mousa, student counselor, said there are people in Saudi society that still think women should bear children and raise sons to become leaders and daughters to be homemakers, a view she believes hinders efforts to encourage women to become more productive members of society.

“A woman in our society starts school at the same age as her male peers, studies the same curricula and sits for the same examinations until she graduates. Women choose challenging majors of study and work hard to graduate and some are even featured in the news as inventors, researchers and role models. Despite all of this effort and perseverance, there are still men who do not appreciate who she is because she cannot cook the meal his mother used to,” she said.

Nora Daifuallah said what makes Saudi women worthy of recognition is the fact that they have excelled in many scientific and vocational fields at remarkable speed in an environment that does not support their activities.

“Perhaps the fact that women now pose competition to the male members of our society is what makes men so apprehensive about acknowledging the role of women in Saudi society,” she said.

Dr. Uhoud Al-Rihaily, a psychiatrist at Taibah University in Madinah, said not only do some men believe that the role of women should be confined to the walls of their home but they also believe that men have inherent traits such as patience, determination, and bravery that allow them to excel and be productive members of society.

“Because some men believe that women lack these traits, they also think women have a lesser chance of ever becoming their equals. Such mindsets will take time to change. What we can do is constantly set examples and encourage the women who have aspirations to be productive members of their society in a positive way. With time, people will grow accustomed to the role of women in this context and start supporting them as they will understand the positive outcome that can result from women playing a more active role,” she said.

Social worker Latifah Al-Siraan said the support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has allowed women to get involved in politics and contribute to developing the Kingdom’s economy, society and culture.

“It was only during his reign that women got their own national IDs and the right to become members of the Shoura Council. The King believes that the role of a woman is not restricted to the household anymore. Many women have aspirations and aim to leave a positive footprint on their society. Such a transformation has definitely enhanced the status of society and opened opportunities for a better life for many families,” she said.

“Rejection of women’s role in society still exists due to our traditions. Some view women working as a negative phenomenon that will cause family breakups. The opinions regarding women’s role in society are mere opinions that should not be forced upon others. Both men and woman were created for the development of this earth. The duty of a man toward a woman and vice versa is merely supportive and cooperative,” she added.

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