Last Sunday, the Saudi Al Madinah newspaper published a news item that reported that 30 Saudi housemaids will receive 1500 Saudi Riyals per month for their work. According to a recruitment manager at one of the national recruitment agencies, the female housemaids brought in from deprived areas after they agreed to this work in accordance with the following rules: [The maid will] work for 8 hours per day in the absence of the [male] head of the household whilst he is at his work, and transport will be provided through the agency to transfer the housemaid to and from her own home, in addition to other details related to training, selection and the age bracket, which is specified between 20 and 45 years old.
From the outset, we must acknowledge that an honest job is a source of pride for any working person whether they are male or female; there is no dispute about that. Moreover, working in the field of housekeeping is not demeaning to a woman in any way, shape or form.
The question we should ask, however, is why is women’s employment in Saudi Arabia tending towards housekeeping, even though there are unexplored job opportunities that women, with their varying levels of education, could get involved in if we exerted sincere efforts towards creating them?
It is inconceivable that a country with facilities like ours falls short in incorporating women in some fields of employment. The private sector is capable of contributing [to this] in an effective manner if it encourages, supports and works on creating a working environment suitable for women. I am not going to try to come up with employment fields that can incorporate women simply because creating new job horizons for women requires deliberate and organized efforts from specialized teams whose main task would be to broaden such horizons in line with the regulations of society. If we take what Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel did as an example, we can see how we would be in a more positive situation if we could just create a set of serious and genuine parallel ideas that ultimately support the employment of women and their stability.
Perhaps many of those who put obstacles in the way of women’s employment now feel that by opposing that trend they have actually narrowed the range of job opportunities available to women to the extent that they will accept being housemaids. May God help them and us all.