Saudi female workforce in retail climbs to 200,000 ahead of ban on foreigners

The milestone comes as the kingdom pushes ahead with plans to ban foreigners from working in shops selling female-specific products.



Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labour and Social Development has said the number of female workers in the retail sector has climbed to 200,000.

The milestone comes as the ministry pushes ahead with plans to ban foreigners from working in shops selling female-specific products.

Faten Al-Sari, acting head of the women’s employment policy and programmes at the ministry, said one key issue women were facing was transportation, according to Arab news.

In a test phase, 400 vouchers for Uber and Careem have been distributed to test whether the apps can provide a viable transportation method for female workers.

The ministry hopes to increase the programme to 150,000 women by 2020.

The kingdom has been trying to create more jobs for women since 2011 but has recently taken more drastic steps to employ female citizens.

On October 31, it will implement the third phase of a plan to limit jobs in shops selling ‘women’s necessities’ in shopping malls, outdoor markets and standalone locations to Saudi women.

Products under this category include perfumes, shoes, bags, socks, read-to-wear clothes and fabrics as well as apartment stores selling women’s clothes.

Read: Saudi pushes ahead with plans to prevent foreigners from working in women’s shops

The government aims to increase the number of women as a proportion of the workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020 and to quadruple the number of women in senior civil service roles to 5 per cent.

Read: Women should be allowed to work as paramedics, opticians – Saudi officials

However, women in the kingdom still face restrictions as to what roles they can take on and must be provided separate facilities and working space by employers.

Read: Four new job roles opened to Saudi women

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