By Sarah Townsend
Ministry aims to increase female participation in the workforce as report highlights barriers to recruitment of women
A total of 80,000 job opportunities for Saudi women are set to come to the market next month, according to reports from the kingdom.
The jobs are to be unveiled as part of the third phase of workforce ‘feminisation’, as Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) seeks to increase female participation in the national workforce.
A report from the ministry in March claimed that the kingdom’s private sector registered a 130 percent increase in the number of working Saudi women in the last four years. Around 30 percent of the private sector workforce is now represented by women, with Riyadh and Makkah representing the biggest opportunities.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plan targets an increase in women’s participation in the overall workforce from 22% percent to 30 percent.
Fatin Al Sari, director of the ministry’s programme for women employment was quoted in Arab News as saying: “Job opportunities for women are open in all sectors as long as there are conducive and suitable work environment.”
The third phase of ‘feminisation’ will include retail-orientated jobs in women’s accessories shops, including those selilng perfumes, shoes, bags, stockings and baby and children’s products.
“This [next] phase will also include pharmacies in malls and shopping centers selling cosmetics,” Al Sari added.
The news came as UAE-based headhunter Metin Mitchell & Company published a report on how Saudi women can speed up their progress in the workplace.
The report was based on interviews conducted with female Saudi leaders including HRH Princess Banderi bint Abdulrahman Al Faisal, director-general of the King Khalid Foundation; Hala Kudwa, consulting leader, KSA financial services at PWC, and Dr Sameera Mazaid Al Tuwaijri, global leader of health, nutrition and population in the World Bank’s Global Practice.
The report urged employers to permit more flexible and remote working for women in senior roles in Saudi Arabia to combine family and work balance; appointing mentors to new female recruits, and encouraging their HR and management departments to hire based on talent rather than experience.
Princess Banderi Al Faisal said: “We need to change some of the male and female stereotypes and set roles. People should be equal, it isn’t your gender that matters, it’s what you do and how and what you contribute to your family and society. We already see two-income households more and more in the country.
“Recently, especially in [Saudi Arabia’s economic plan] Vision 2030, the focus is on providing women with opportunities to study and work. Our society is changing and both men and women need to be open to change. I think female economic empowerment is very important for the future of our country.”