The idea of having Saudi women working as maids was mentioned in the Saudi media last month. Some Saudis took great offense at the idea. Arab News runs an article discussing the issue again and still there are Saudis who seem to lack both a sense of irony and a sense of humanity. The articles notes that the unemployment rate for Saudi women is around 26% (a modest guess, in my book). Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of women come to the country every year from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Pakistan, and other developing countries to take the jobs some Saudis think too demeaning for their sisters to take.
The article wryly quotes an Egyptian ad looking to hire a Saudi domestic with both English and IT skills. It also quotes Egyptian officials saying that they would never permit Egyptians to go to Saudi Arabia as servants.
I’m truly amazed by the Saudis quoted arguing against Saudi women taking these jobs. Is the work dignified or not? If it is not, then why subject other nationalities to the work? Is the work not safe—physically or morally—for Saudi women? Then why is it safe for foreign women? Is it better that some save face while others struggle to put food on their families’ table? If not, then what’s the fuss about?
And Saudis wonder why they have a reputation of arrogance and hypocrisy….
The Unfavorable Prospect of Having Saudi Housemaids
Razan Baker, Arab News
JEDDAH, 29 July 2007 â€” The Ministry of Social Affairs is considering whether to employ Saudi women as housemaids to decrease the rate of unemployment among women which, according to the Ministry of Labor, reached 26 percent in 2006.
The ministry aims to help women support their families, especially since around two million Saudis are poor, said Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi. By employing Saudis, MOSA also aims to decrease the number of foreign housemaids coming to the Kingdom.
Although some Saudis sympathize with poor women and support Saudi maids, many others are against the idea and consider such jobs as degrading to the status of Saudi women.
In a recent newspaper interview, a Saudi housemaid said that if people knew where she goes every morning then they would stop her and criticize her. â€œIf they gave me another solution I would accept it, but they donâ€™t. So thereâ€™s no need for them to know,â€ the woman said.
Samira Ismail, a 61-year-old woman, said 30 to 40 years ago her family employed Saudi housemaids. â€œThey were loyal, trustworthy and helped us only during the day because they had families of their own to take care of,â€ she said. Ismail supports the idea of having Saudi housemaids but only for women who are over 50.