Female job seekers in Saudi Arabia are finding it easier to land a job thanks to a new female only employment board. Naziha Deriche, the brains behind the project, came up with the idea as a response to the limited opportunities Saudi women face in the employment field. The 23-year-old, who was born in Australia to Lebanese parents, grew up in the Kingdom and couldn’t help but notice the inequalities between men and women.
"The idea was inspired by seeing young females with excellent qualifications and experience come back from abroad, and be offered little to no opportunity to advance in their careers," Deriche told StepFeed.
She decided to tackle the problem head on with a job board that caters to the growing number of highly educated women who cannot find jobs for which they are more than qualified.
Limited opportunities for ambitious women
During her time in Saudi Arabia, Deriche found that there didn’t exist a practical structure in place for women to find jobs, which was reflected in the number of women in the workplace.
"Women in Saudi Arabia make up a small segment of the workforce," she told StepFeed. "The idea of women working in all fields is fairly new. Women outside of these fields have little room to explore their careers and find opportunities for growth."
Deriche also found that employers were not making an effort to cater to women, with female jobs spreading through word of mouth rather than being advertised on job-searching platforms like they are for men. Her job board, Alajnabia, is a practical way to bridge the gap between employers looking for female employees and the women who are qualified to do the job.
It is a rarity for educated Saudi women to find a fulfilling career that isn’t relegated to stereotypically female sectors, such as education and healthcare. This reality isn’t lost on Deriche who chose to name her job board Alajnabia, meaning “foreigner”.
"Alajnabia comes from the idea that women working in Saudi is still a relatively foreign concept," she said. "Our aim at Alajnabia is to create a platform on which a healthy competitive environment can be established. Once this exists, the underlying issues of women unemployment can be targeted."
Trials and tribulations of launching the platform
Alajnabia makes it easier for women seeking employment as well as employers looking for qualified candidates. The job board allows women to search for jobs according to field, location, job type and job title. It also features a profile building tool, which allows job seekers to be found directly by employers. Employers are also able to create profiles and post jobs to find candidates.
As a recent biomedical graduate from the University of Technology, Sydney, Deriche used her passion for education as an incentive to launch Alajnabia. However, her passion did face obstacles when the platform was in its inception phase. "With the start up of every project, you face a lot of ups and downs throughout,” she said. There are days where I feel like I'm ready to conquer the world and days where I feel like I don't have the ability to make this or the support group work."
Alajnabia has not only received positive reviews from users but has grown consistently since its launch earlier this year. This has helped Deriche come to terms with just how innovative her idea was and the impact it has had on the lives of Saudi women.
"What really keeps me going is the feedback I receive from young females that tell me how thankful they are for the existence of this platform,” she said. "I am working on different ways to help us reach further heights within the near future."
Positive future for working women in Saudi Arabia
The launch of Alajnabia comes on the heels of a Saudi government report released earlier this year, which confirmed a 130 percent increase in the number of women in the workforce over the past 4 years. This, coupled with the government's goal of a 28 percent female workforce by 2020, shows that Alajnabia is part of a new movement in the Kingdom to create more opportunities for working women.