Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Well-informed sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi women working in lingerie stores will seek to refer their case to the Human Rights Commission if they are sacked. This comes as Saudi Labour Minister Adel Faqih is facing escalating calls to revoke the decision to allow Saudi women to work in lingerie stores.
The Saudi Human Rights Commission confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that it supports the employment of women. Saudi Human Rights Commission member Dr. Noura Yousef asserted that “we in the commission support all honorable employment for women, and this includes all work that grants new opportunities for women to be hired which in turn will reduce unemployment rates.”
Dr. Yousef questioned the calls demanding Saudi Labour Minister Adel Faqih revoke his decision, saying “it is extremely convenient for women to work in such stores, whilst this is also more comfortable for the customers.” She added “this opens the door to new job opportunities for Saudi women, rather than being confined to the education and health sectors.”
The Saudi Human Right Commission member also asserted that many women shoulder financial responsibility for their families, informing Asharq Al-Awsat that “there are some women who are responsible for large families thanks to their jobs at lingerie stores, as well as other honorable employment, so to sack them represents a clear and unacceptable transgression.”
Dr. Yousef acknowledged that harassment is an issue but stressed that it would be better to address this via strict regulations than calling for Saudi women to be prevented from honorable employment. She said “since the time of the Prophet – peace be upon him – women have worked in the field of sales, this is honorable employment, and it is not right for the truth to be distorted.”
Following these recent developments well-informed sources within the Saudi Labour Ministry confirmed that the ministry will not revoke its decision to permit Saudi women to work in lingerie stores. The source said “the ministry is working to increase the number of inspectors, and there will be no withdrawal from the decision to allow women to work in such stores.”
For his part, Khalid al-Khudair, founder of Glowork – “the first website dedicate to female recruitment in the GCC” – told Asharq Al-Awsat that stores specializing in selling lingerie and children’s clothing have begun to look for female staff. He said “despite the fact that the Labour Ministry decision is not imposed on stores selling women’s and children’s clothes…they have taken the initiative to seek to employ Saudi women at lucrative salaries of up to 5,000 riyals per month.”
Al-Khudair also revealed that another Saudi private sector company is seeking to employ a large staff comprised of Saudi women, adding that the salaries of this particular job reach up to 18,000 riyals.
He said “all of this information indicates the keenness of private sector companies to achieve the highest rates of Saudization …as well as their confidence in female employees.”
During a press conference last week Saudi Labour Minister Adel Faqih responded to media comments issued by President of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice [CPVPV] regarding the issue of female employment. He said “I had hoped that coordination between the governmental sides would have remained an internal matter, and not taken place via the media” adding “we will hold a number of meetings with the CPVPV to discuss their view of the decision to allow women to work in lingerie shops.”
The Labour Minister added “it is natural for there to be irregularities and negative practices to this decision, and here I can compare this to the traffic system where some drivers are transgressing and going through red-lights, therefore anybody who has a different view regarding this [employment] system that has been put in place by the Labour Ministry, I invite them to report this and cooperate with us.”