Saudi women now make up more than a third of kingdom's workforce

Female citizens aged 15 to 24 are actively taking up more jobs, statistics show

Safi, a 26-year-old physician, is among the women who comprise 37 per cent of Saudi Arabia's workforce today. AFP
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Saudi women now comprise 37 per cent of the workforce in the kingdom, the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, Ahmed Al Rajhi, has said.

In 2016, only 17.7 per cent of the workforce were female.

About 2.2 million Saudis are now employed in the private sector, the highest number in the country's history.

"Young Saudi girls are passionate, driven and skilled," said Shurouq Ahmed, a female sports trainer in Jeddah.

"They want to go out there and work. They are independent and have always been this way, but now the difference is they have the chance and the opportunity thanks to our leadership and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman."

Saudi women aged 15 to 24 are actively taking up more jobs, statistics show. Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Statistics’ (Gastat) said their participation rate rose from eight per cent in the second quarter of last year to 50.1 per cent in the third.

Basma Bouzo, co-founder of Saudi Design Week and Bouqo, a consulting agency, said: "In the firm we’re actually all females with the exception of one male.

"At SDW, we consciously make sure we have a balanced female-to-male ratio for speakers."

Noura (L) and Basma Bouzo, founders of Saudi Design Week, pictured in an art gallery in Riyadh. Photo: Bayan Alsadiq

Ghalia Alshareef, an entrepreneur and chef in Khobar, said: "Saudi women have always supported each other.

"If a woman wants to become a baker, all her friends will start sharing her social media page and ordering from her, or if there's a designer, suddenly all your family and friends will become your first customers.

"This is our culture and I have to stay it's impressive and keeps us together, giving us motivation and strength to do better."

Aloula, one of the country's leading non-profit organisations, was founded by seven Saudi women in 1962 under the name Aljamia Alnsaia Alkhiria Aloula.

Aloula supports underprivileged women and children, empowering females by providing them with basic needs, health support and training.

The organisation helps educate women by training them to use computers, teaching them nursing assistance and providing self-confidence and entrepreneurial skills. Aloula also established an orphanage and an elderly home.

"In 2003, we established a ladies club for women and children with swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts and a gym for them and their children," said Aloula board member Nasiba Hafiz, a Saudi fashion designer in Jeddah.

In 2017, Aloula developed a new strategy that focused on fighting poverty through early intervention with educational, professional and physical training.

"We provide basic needs for the families — from housing, food school supplies and health care — so they can live a quality life," said Ms Hafiz. "I joined Aloula in 2020 during lockdown and it was one of the best blessings for me ... working with such great women has taught me so much.

"My role before becoming a board member was using some of the leftover materials from years back and making use of it — recycling, upcycling, reusing anything we had to create a fashionable collection to raise money for the families of Aloula."

Updated: January 15, 2023, 9:28 AM
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