At last! Jobs for Saudi women!

Thursday the 5th of  January is a historic date for Saudi Arabia: from this day the ”women only” rule will be enforced in Saudi female apparel and cosmetics stores. According to the labor ministry shops that do not employ women will be penalized, even banned from selling lingerie. This will open a lot of jobs for Saudi women, and must also be a great relief for all women in Saudi Arabia who until now had to buy their lingerie from male shop assistants. Moreover, only Saudi women are allowed to work in these places and they do not need a work permit from the Ministry of Labor or any other governmental body.

Wile in Riyadh it has been difficult to enlist female employees, owners of shops in Jeddah and Dammam have not found difficulties in recruiting Saudi women willing to work in such shops. An estimated 28.000 women have applied for the now open jobs.

The ministry warned that it would launch a campaign to check these shops and make sure that only women work there. It added, that all arrangements have been made to enforce this rule.

Of course the religious police are ready to keep an eye on this process. Apart from the fact that the muttawas consider women working in a shop to be a tremendous opening for vice and fornication, which was only to be expected, they are now considering building a female cadre to oversee the implementation of the new law, which will open even more jobs for women!

The ministry has set up a series of regulations to make sure this dangerous new law does not cause any trouble:

Fahd Sulaiman Al-Tikhaifi, assistant undersecretary for planning and development at the Labor Ministry, said in an interview that the regulation applies exclusively to stores specializing in women’s underwear and dresses.

He said the Labor Ministry has made all preparations for implementing the rules, including inspections, to ensure these stores comply with the regulations.

Stressing the ministry’s mission is purely regulatory and plugging loopholes in the law where necessary, Al-Tikhaifi said a number of procedures have been put in place.

A working group consisting of inspectors from the Labor Ministry has been set up under the leadership of the committee’s president to carry out random inspections of shopping malls to ensure their compliance with the regulations.

The inspection will be conducted in two shifts in the morning and evening. The visits will cover open and closed stores and shopping malls. One-day workshops with the inspectors in all labor offices will be held before the start of the operation. Among other measures, arrangements will be made for the publication of directories listing businesses and the goods they sell.

Speaking on the scope of cooperation with the Haia, Al-Tikhaifi said the commission is playing a great role in monitoring markets and shopping malls. He said they ensure saleswomen conduct themselves with dignity, adding that the Haia’s experience in this field is important from the ministry’s point of view.

In this context, the official said, there is now a joint committee consisting of representatives from the Labor Ministry and the Haia to handle complaints either from shopping mall visitors or from saleswomen at these malls. He said cooperation is required from society as a whole to create a safe and healthy working environment for women.

The labor official pointed out that a call center has been set up at the ministry for taking calls from women working at lingerie shops. He added that the ministry would also welcome complaints from shop owners or individuals. He said the ministry is committed to improving the current mechanism for handling complaints in cooperation with the Haia personnel. The complaints will be dealt with in strict confidence, he added.

Now I wonder what kind of complaints can be forthcoming in connection with women working in a shop where only women are allowed?

source: Arab News



31 Responses

  1. great! thanks for the update!

  2. Good news, but it shouldn’t even be news.

  3. I just thought I would add to this. A couple weeks ago I was shopping in a home supplies store (furniture, kitchen, accessories etc)- NOT ladies only and not only were there woman cashiers but woman working on the sales floor as well. A couple days later I was at an electronics/home appliance shop- and a lady salesperson came to assist me. I was really pleased with these stores because they are not even compelled to do this- so it is nice to see some businesses are ready to support women as soon as it is legal for them to do so.

  4. Finally! One of the key components of women’s liberation was that women working outside the home became more accwpted especially in fields not “traditional”. Hopefully it won’t take another world war to make women realize they can be independent from men.

  5. “Now I wonder what kind of complaints can be forthcoming in connection with women working in a shop where only women are allowed?”

    I heard that men also would be allowed as customers. Otherwise how a man could offer beautiful lingerie to his wife.

  6. “they are now considering building a female cadre to oversee the implementation of the new law, which will open even more jobs for women!” This really is pretty funny.

  7. This is excellent excellent news indeed, apparently the stores closer to homes are getting tons of applicants, my SIl’s have applied — yesssss ( i can’t stop doing the happy dance) . I’m hoping atleast one of them lands it .

    This is indeed very good news. maybe i should tell my other SIl to apply for the Haia when they open a female cadre.. Imagine, your own car, mayb with a driver , huh she’d be all set.

  8. At last they enter the 7th century!

  9. Will women still be required to bring their mahrem’s permission to work, though?

  10. One step at a time! Good news for sure!

  11. Was this law not stated in 2006 but just now being implimented? inch by inch.

  12. Yes it was implemented in 2006. Snails cross the finish line before Saudi.

  13. Should stated enacted in 2006 and implemented almost six years later.

  14. I have question in my mind and I have never find an answer, and not sure that I will. Given the lack of honesty these days-sorry to say that but it is true. OK my wonder is that Are you really care about the will being of these women? Or you are happy because some of your objectives have been achieved. Of course your objectives are not necessarily helping these women. But for some of you it may be the case. What are the potential objectives? Will I have read one example in the comments above which says: “they can be independent from men”. Is this necessarily in the women interests? It is in the interest of the society in the long term? I am not sure.

    What support my suspicions is that I found no sympathy or little at best with other women in the rigon whose misery in fact came because of policies that coming from the same countries that now moaning about saudi women. Do I need to give examples? I think we all know about Iraq and Afghanistan and also what will happen to Iranian women when the sanctions become effective? Do you care about Iranian women? I do not see in the media objection for the sanctions because it will harm Iranian women. What about women in Gaza? Do they suffer? Have you condemn the people who are causing the suffering of Gazean women? NO America even use Veto which in turn contribute to the women hardships. OK, Person like me get really confused. I am still searching for an answer.

    Sometimes I think that the majority of the American or European only tools. They do not design the policy or shape the positions. Small minority in the top plan and the rest only cheerleaders. The implementation of these policies executed by deferent servants, for instance, in Iraq it was the american soldiers who were the tools. In other places other tools. So because the majority are only tools I shouldn’t blame them because they are only tools.

    Why you find many people claim they are advocating saudi women rights? Because it is their governments goals. What if it was not their government goal? I bet little people will care. What is your evidence? My evidence is that there are lots of women killed and become widows by the westerns Governments and I don’t see lots of objections. Some time you hardly find media reporting for these incidents in Yemen or Pakistan by the drones. OK, what if some one say in the west government represent the people and you can’t separate the two? I don’t have an answer.

    OK, why I am trying to discourage helping saudi women by others? I am not against helping saudi women but I am not sure those others really helping saudi women or helping themselves.

    Oh writing in English is not easy. Still more idea in my head. Can I write them in Arabic Carol?

  15. I find in general the US and western governments do nothing about Saudi women’s rights. It is the people who care about the Saudi women.Those of us on this blog are speaking out as individuals- not government representatives. And absolutely it is better if a woman can be independent from men. Only then can she CHOOSE to be in a partnership with a man she might find worthy. Otherwise she is just stuck with a man. Would you rather a woman is stuck with you? Or chooses to be with you?

    It doesn’t matter to western nations how Saudi women are treated (which is why they don’t help much) they are more concerned with economics and security issues. So yes, most people expressing concern for Saudi Women are really concerned about them.

    Also, this blog is about Saudi Arabia. If you went to a blog about Yemen or Pakistan you might find a lot of people expressing their concern. But since this blog is about Saudi- we talk about Saudi here.

  16. @ Sandy

    ”It doesn’t matter to western nations how Saudi women are treated”

    Good statement.

  17. @ Sandy

    ”Would you rather a woman is stuck with you? Or chooses to be with you?”

    The answer for normative questions depend on the values, and since the variation of the values the answer will vary.

  18. @moonlight – I don’t understand your last statement… what values?

    there is only 1 way to answer that question. It’s a pick this or that. Most people would prefer their spouse to choose to be with them,not forced to be with them for whatever reason.

    As for western govt, NO GOVT inthis world cares for women in some other country particularly. Do you think saudi govt cares for women from srilanka living in srilanka??

    or do you think iran’s govt cares for the women suffering in N.korea? nope

    I do think people who comment on this blog care, they are in some way affected by what happens in saudi or live in saudi or have lived in saudi or have some ties to the area. so they care. maybe they can help maybe not but nothing wrong feeling empathy is there?

  19. @radhaa

    At the moment most women in Arabia are asked for their consent before they get married. However, they have little time to see their husband to be, and their meeting has to be supervised by the father or the brother, though phone conversation before the wedding is not unusual and some may take long time. These process is not enough in the some people minds for the woman to really choose her husband.

    Sandy said when women become independent from men they can CHOOSE. So women will have stronger means to asses the potential husbands. And the question to what extent the women should asses the future husband. Should live together in the same house but separate room? Should they sleep together? The answer for these questions will be according to value position. The answer with Yes may be rational, but it may conflict with someone value and people can’t separate their answers from their values. As far as Saudi values is concerned women shouldn’t live or sleep with a man before their wedding even if it is not rationale. In the Western Europe and North America there are deferent values. The majority don’t mind testing each other even in the bedroom and so they will say yes to the previous questions.

  20. @Moon Light,
    “Are you really care about the will being of these women?”
    Yes, I really care about the well-being of these women and people everywhere. I originally came to this blog when I had just started dating my ex-boyfriend who was Saudi because I was curious about laws of Saudi students marrying foreigners. I also wanted to know about the law, culture and customs of Saudi Arabia in order to determine whether or not I would be okay living there. In the end, we broke up. However, I still have many friends (even before I dated my ex-boyfriend) from the country. I care about them, their families, their country, etc. I also have friends in many other countries, too. I considered moving to Saudi Arabia after this to teach English and learn Arabic, but ended up falling in love in my home country instead.

    “Why you find many people claim they are advocating saudi women rights? Because it is their governments goals. What if it was not their government goal? I bet little people will care. What is your evidence?”

    You find a lot of women advocating Saudi women rights because they genuinely care about people in other places. People and government are different. Sometimes, the governments of foreign countries do care about the people in the other countries, but of course I would expect them to act in the interest of their country first. There are good and bad people everywhere. From my experience, most people genuinely care although not all the people that care are willing to work hard to help someone else.

  21. @Moon light.
    If they are Muslims- they will do it within those parameters. It’s not just about assessing the men. Some women have no one to feed them. Some women are being abused. They have no legal recourse.

    And it is not fair to basically imprison half of the population because you are afraid some women might sleep with men. If that happens that is their own fault and they will answer for it. Government should not be the bedroom police.

  22. @Moonlight

    I thought the issue was not about choosing a husband, it was about choosing to STAY with someone vs. being forced to stay with someone, meaning once you are already married. I don’t think it’s a value judgment any more than “should you molest your children” is.

  23. @NN

    ”being forced to stay with someone, meaning once you are already married”

    In fact women have a choice to stay with her husband or she can divorce herself. If the divorce came from the man it called ”ṭalāq”. However, if the divorce came from the woman it called ”Khula” which is the right of a woman in Islam to seek a divorce or separation from her husband. It go back to the time of the prophet when a woman came to him and said she can’t bear the life with her husband and the prophet give her the right to divorce him. This provision still in place until today woman can go to the judge and ask for Khula.

    Consequently, your statement that marriage mean forcing women to stay with her husbands is not accurate in my opinion.

  24. Many women in Saudi get stuck in marriages- sometimes abusive ones and cannot get a divorce. Remember Saudi follows tribal laws not Islamic ones. OR their husbands will divorce them but deny them their children. I know people this has happened to. Everyone here does.

  25. @moonlight – “At the moment most women in Arabia are asked for their consent before they get married”

    I’m more concerned about those that are not. There are more women whose consent is not asked than people think so. Even in seemingly educated families.

    So if a woman has a job or the capacity to get one , she can be a bit more firm and have more say in her future.
    That’s what choice means, not to decide if she wanted ot sleep with her husband before marriage !!!! ( that’s choice too) but i doubt that could / should be regulated .

    Women are not being forced to work, if they choose to or want to or need to they have the oppurtunity — that’s all this law coming into effect means. don’t worry their masters still have all rights over them 🙂

    and no women going out to work dosn’t lead to sex… seriously .

  26. @Moonlight

    I think that you are deliberately being obtuse. The question of the original discussion was that having jobs is good for women because if a woman is financially independent, she can DECIDE whether she ought to stay with her husband vs. being FORCED to stay with him because she’s financially dependent on him.

    No one on this blog needs a primer in Islamic laws on divorce, but perhaps you need a primer on how these laws are practiced in the Islamic world. One of frequent participants on this blog had to go in front of a judge multiple times to get a divorce from a husband who molested their daughters. Wife of another former participant had to bribe the judge to let her divorce her drug addict husband. If you need someone’s approval of your “right” to divorce, it’s not a real right. Women are treated like children who need their parent’s permission to have a piece of candy between meals.

    Finally, my understanding is that when a woman seeks khula, she needs to return whatever she received as mahr. Even if she lived with her husband for twenty years and was beaten black and blue for most of them. Don’t get me started on Islamic divorce laws. They are a complete travesty to women.

  27. @NN

    How dare you☺ I understand your point but still the society in Arabia has special structure. ”being FORCED to stay with him because she’s financially dependent on him.” She will not be dependent on her husband because she can go to her family’s house which is perfectly normal, and if women were dependent on their husbands you will not see them divorcing in high number.

  28. But we’ve heard from and about many women who were send straight back to their abusive/addicted/molesting husbands by their own families. The point is that as long as women are dependent they are not free.

    And I think that paying back mahr is a travesty, that money is paid to the wife for providing sexual pleasure. She has done so. That money is hers.

  29. @moonlight – My SIl’s first marriage was a nightmare but apparently when her family ( parents /brother) were informed of this they told her ( told not asked) to stay with her husband a khula would not be welcome 🙂

    no income, no support = no choice. now if she had a wayt o work adn support herself , then she could walk away.

    I understand 90% of the people are not like that, but this is great for the ones that require it. that’s why it’s so good – no one forces women to work, just that they have an option of reqd…

  30. hello everybody, i just need some information about Saudi Arabia, can somebody email me at thank you

  31. Alma, read this blog, it is about Saudi Arabia. use the search function for specific subjects.

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