Call to 'saudize' part-time jobs for women
Veil-clad women work at a factory for pickling olives and dates in the northern city of Tabuk (Source: Saudi Gazzette).
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Social security experts have called for the Saudization of temporary and part-time jobs in hospitals, wedding halls and beauty parlors in order to find work for Saudi women struggling to make ends meet.
They pointed out that some of these women are illiterate and there are thousands of jobs that do not require a school certificate or experience, Al-Madinah newspaper reported.
The experts called on the private sector to cooperate with the government and provide jobs for this group of women.
They have also recommended a review of the criteria divorced and widowed women must fulfill in order to obtain social security benefits.
Charitable organizations are receiving complaints from many women who were not accepted onto the social security system.
Mariam Omar, a divorced woman, said she lost her husband seven years ago and applied for social security benefits.
She receives SR1,700 a month that is hardly enough to pay for rent, let alone provide for her three children.
She could not find a job because she is illiterate and the only job she could find offered SR800 a month, so she did not take it.
She said that her only alternative is to seek help from charitable organizations.
Fatima Al-Harbi, who is divorced, said she worked as a private security guard for a government body for a while.
However, they dismissed her because she was found to be illiterate and said she should at least have an intermediate school certificate.
She was receiving a SR2,500 salary to provide for herself and her three daughters. Though she looked for other jobs, there were no suitable vacancies.
Al-Harbi now approaches charitable organizations and philanthropists for assistance.
She added that she feels humiliated when she approaches charities, which gives her SR400 every six months, but she has no alternative source of income.
Um Saeed said she provides for seven children, some of whom are handicapped. She lives off social security benefits that are hardly enough to cover the rent.
Um Saeed is illiterate and over 50. She said finding work is virtually impossible, so she seeks the assistance of philanthropists as the only viable solution.
Hayat Bin Mahfouz, a social activist who is responsible for productive families at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said there are many projects and fields where these women can work.
She said hospitals recruit expatriate workers even though Saudi women are more in need of such jobs.
She said there is a directive to Saudize beauty parlors, but that directive is not followed by many business owners.
Shadyah Al-Ghazali, a social specialist and member of the handicrafts committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said businessmen should cooperate and help in finding job opportunities for this group of needy women.
She said training centers should be established to train these women in handicrafts and qualify them to work.
Suhaila Zainul Abideen, a social activist and member of the National Society for Human Rights, agreed these women could benefit from training to acquire handicrafts skills.
Such training would also make them literate and qualify them to work in different jobs, she said.
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