A report released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development in March of this year, shows a 130 percent increase over the last four years of the number of women working in the private sector, and women now represent 30 percent of the total private sector workforce.
The Saudi government has introduced several programs designed to empower women economically and to increase the presence of Saudi females in the workforce. The government’s goal under the National Transformation Program 2020 is to increase the percentage of women in the Saudi total workforce to 28 percent by 2020. These initiatives have included strong support for an increased female presence in the retail sector, and the development of and support for home based employment opportunities.
The greatest increase in Saudi female workforce presence has been seen in major cities such as Riyadh, Mecca, and Jeddah where cultural attitudes towards women working are less stringent and opportunities for employment and demand for labor are greater; however, the government is currently working on several initiatives to provide similar opportunities for women in rural areas, where cultural attitudes and transportation issues are an even greater impediment to women being able to enter the workforce.