Following Wednesday’s decapitation of a 4 year-old girl in Yanbu by an Indonesian maid, a campaign was launched requesting the Ministry of Education to establish daycare centers in private and public schools. Others believe that daycare centers should be part of all businesses where women work full-time.
“What happened last week shows that we can no longer trust maids to babysit our children,” said Amal Saleh, a mother of two and manager at an advertising firm in Jeddah.
She added that after hearing what had happened to the young girl, she immediately petitioned the managing director and CEO of the company she works for to allow for a daycare center at the women’s section. She called on all working women to do the same.
“I think that if all working women petition the companies they work for and ask for day care centers, it will change the society for good,” she said.
Wijdan Al-Harbi, a Saudi mother of three working in a telecom company said that she too, requested the establishment of a day care center in the company she works for in Riyadh. Initially her boss was not keen on the idea, but after hearing of the incident in Yanbu he said he would look into it.
“We are part of Saudi society too, and deserve to have a family and a career if we so choose. We need facilities such as daycare centers to contribute to the Kingdom’s workforce,” Al-Harbi said, adding that it is frustrating when others do not see that women have these rights.
Another working mother stated that she would like to see daycare centers established in all businesses, but commented that she is skeptical it would make a difference especially if the company hires foreign nannies to take care of the children due to cost issues.
“I think it is a great idea, but I am also afraid most companies will try to cut costs by employing foreigners at a cheaper salary when we have so many qualified, unemployed Saudi nurses and teachers that could be employed in these positions,” said Majda Al-Zahrani, a Saudi nurse working in a private sector clinic in Jeddah.
Lutfia Salman, a psychologist from Abha, said she felt that the tradition of leaving small children with housemaids has been wrong from the start. Still, many working parents do it, in an effort to save money.
“Children under the age of five should never be left with foreign nannies or housemaids because the most important part of a child’s development occurs during this time. Leaving young children with unqualified caregivers for long periods of time during the day will result in poor language and social skills,” she advised.
According to a recent study by Booz & Company, Saudi women currently make up less than 15 percent of the Kingdom’s workforce up from 5.2 percent in 1992, due to childcare issues.