Jobs are scarce for women in Saudi Arabia. Now, it appears they’re going to become scarcer. Arab News reports that companies employing women as cashiers are rethinking their practices in the face of a fatwa issued last year condemning women for working in positions that would put them ‘in contact with strange men’. In fact, women are anticipating a new rule from the Ministry of Labor that would exclude them from that job category.
Women cashiers face uncertainty
FATIMA SIDIYA | ARAB NEWS
JEDDAH: The few women in Jeddah working as cashiers are still doing so, but they fear that government ambivalence to the idea of women working in the service industry won’t protect them from being fired without notice due to their employers succumbing to social pressure, especially considering an official fatwa last year condemning any job where a woman might interact with a male customer, coworker or manager.
Arab News visited several Jeddah supermarkets and stores that employ women as cashiers. The sales consultant supervising the employment of women cashiers in her company said that they have so far employed 35 Saudi women in five branches and are to open three more women sections in Jeddah.
The salaries of these women, she said, are SR3,000 a month. The women who are employed come through the Ministry of Labor.
Another major store that had started employing women last year recently stopped recruiting more women. An official at the company told Arab News that they are not willing to employ more women and are now working on restructuring the women’s sections in their company.
Meanwhile, Saudi Gazette/Okaz report that a Saudi philanthropy will be training women in cooking and nursing. I guess they don’t need to training them in how to get pregnant. The jobs for which women will be trained will fall, for the most part, in the same ‘dangerous’ category as is being prohibited to them, that is, the women will be required to interact with ‘strange men’.
I do wonder why Saudi society traditionally assumes that women are the problem here. It seems rather clear that the problem is Saudi men who don’t know how to behave in the presence of unrelated women, assuming that strange women are simply dying to sexually assault them. Perhaps philanthropies could institute courses for men to teach them to respect strange women as much as they would respect their mothers or sisters. Or, perhaps, the Ministry of Education could start that training in grammar school, helping the little pashas get a better grasp of reality…
Saudi women to be trained in cooking and nursing
ABDULLAH AL-HARITHY JEDDAH:
The Saudi Social Philanthropic Fund will train Saudi female jobseekers in cooking, nursing and other jobs which suit the conservative nature of Saudi society and are based on Islamic teachings, said Dr. Yousuf Al-Othaimeen, Minister of Social Affairs.
He made the comment after signing agreements with the Philanthropic Fund and the International Saudi Academy for Tourism, Hotels and Training at Mursal Village in Jeddah on Friday. The agreements also stipulate the training of 300 male jobseekers in various vocational skills at a cost of SR21.6 million.
He said the trainees will be given SR1,000 a month throughout the training period and contracts for employment after completing the courses, at a minimum salary of SR3,000. Many of them will be employed by the Americana chain of restaurants.