This week, Saudi Arabia took another major step towards empowering its women and encouraging them to join the labor market. The Kingdom’s Ministry of Labor and Social Development launched a new initiative called the Unified Regulation of Women’s Work Environment Initiative, which aims at creating an attractive working environment for women, while also facilitating private sector businesses bid to attract female workers. As reported by Saudi Press Agency, the Ministry sees this initiative as key to opening several fields for women to work in, while at the same time providing an attractive and safe work environment for them.
In order to achieve its objectives, the initiative aims at addressing a number of pertinent issues such as: avoiding any action that puts pressure on women’s freedom in a way that does not conform to labor and local laws; working on zero tolerance for gender discrimination with regards to wages for work of equal value; and stressing that the creation of an appropriate working environment for women is the direct responsibility of the employer, by creating a suitable space for women to carry out their responsibilities, as well as providing privacy and independence in women’s sections in every office working environment.
The initiative also focuses on providing adequate security measures or suitable electronic security systems operated by women, and states that in the event women and men are employed in the same place of work, the number of females working in the same shift shall not be less than two. The Ministry has also specified working hours for women at night for various activities, which is until 11 p.m. except for industrial activities, where they are only required to work until 6 p.m.
Exceptions to this time limit were also given, such as for those in senior positions, those who work in hospitals and emergency situations, and those who work in establishments that fall under the supervision of cities or governorates and their municipalities in the month of Ramadan and other peak seasons.