London, Asharq Al-Awsat- As part of a government drive to expand job opportunities for women, Saudi Arabia confirmed on Tuesday women would replace male sales assistants in lingerie shops from next month.
“In a decision taken two years ago, the Cabinet allowed women to work in an economic activity”, Labor Minister Dr. Ghazi al Ghosaibi said.
The decision to restrict jobs in lingerie shops to Saudi women was taken to increase job opportunities for women, the minister added, and will be implemented in two phases.
The first phase, which begins on 18 June, will see sales jobs in shops along main streets, central markets and in major shopping centers restricted to Saudi women.
In the second phase, to begin in 2007, sales jobs in shops selling abayas and women’s readymade dresses follow suit.
“Concern for women’s role and their participation in society’s development has been in the works for 25 years, when the Manpower Council was established” the Minister was quoted by the Saudi Press Agency.
Al Ghosaibi said a special religious panel had approved the council’s plan to allow women to work in other sectors of the economy, including health, education, social care and tailoring and embroidery.
The Labor Ministry said women’s shops must be designed to prevent anyone from outside looking, and that women’s sections in larger shops should have separate entrances.