Saudi Arabia: Women in work has ‘doubled’ to over 35% of labour force

Riyadh has introduced reforms to remove barriers to female employment

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The number of women with jobs in Saudi Arabia has nearly doubled in the last five years and now stands at over 35 per cent of the workforce, the kingdom said this week.

Abdullah Abuthnain, the Saudi deputy minister of human resources and social development, said on Tuesday that the number of women in work was at "the highest level in the kingdom’s history" as the government seeks to introduce reforms and boost women's rights.

Under Saudi Vision 2030, the authorities are reforming almost every area of society, including a drive to boost the participation of women in the job market.

Since 2018, Saudi Arabia has allowed women to drive, live alone, work outside the home and travel without the permission of a male guardian.

The reforms have benefited about six million Saudi women over the age of 21.

Mr Abuthnain said 51.5 per cent of Saudi adults now participated in the economy, with the number of citizens working in the private sector rising to more than "two million men and women".

He said the Saudi employment market was undergoing strategic reforms that included 25 development initiatives.

“The labour market strategy focuses on adopting occupational standards for more than 200 professions and establishing skills councils for key economic sectors to help in job planning and setting standards for skills,” he said.

Mr Abuthnain said the kingdom would establish training institutions and private sector initiatives to boost the labour market further.

Turki Al Jawini, director general of customer experience at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, said 7,000 women found employment in 2021 with the help of the Tamheer programme, which offers on-the-job training to Saudi women.

At least 51,000 women with jobs have benefited from the kingdom's Wusool programme, which provides transport for employees, he said.

He said a further 3,500 working mothers took advantage of initiatives such as Qurrah, which helps to provide child support.

Updated: May 18, 2022, 2:07 PM
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