An Algerian biomedical engineer is on a mission to make it easier for women to find work in Saudi Arabia by creating the first job-searching website for females in the Kingdom.
Australian-born Naziha Deriche, 23, who was raised in Saudi Arabia, realized after completing her postgraduate studies in Sydney last year that it was hard for her and her friends to find jobs in Saudi Arabia.
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“Most of the jobs advertised are ... for males in Saudi Arabia,” Deriche told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
So she set up a free website in March this year called “Alajnabia”, or foreigner in Arabic, with the aim of increasing the amount of women in the workforce by connecting job seekers with recruiters.
The Kingdom is trying to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on oil with its Vision 2030 economic reform plan setting a target to lift women’s participation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030 from 22 percent.
Women can now work in certain retail and hospitality jobs and this year the Saudi Stock Exchange appointed its first female chair, Sarah Al-Suhaimi.
Deriche said she and her friends saw the main issue with female unemployment as not just the few available jobs but also poor advertising.
Deriche, who is working with 40 recruitment agencies, said the website has had 1,000 resumes uploaded since it was set up and keeps growing.
On the site job seekers can look for work and also employers can advertise jobs and look at the women’s resumes. Jobs are also advertised on website’s social media platforms.
“We’re creating a healthy environment for competition where people are hired based on their skills, their qualifications, their abilities — rather than connections, or through word of mouth, or through knowing someone,” said Deriche.
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“I know people may think it’s just a job board, but it was more of a social initiative. I wanted it to be something to simulate women empowerment.”
According to a report released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development in March, the number of working women has dramatically increased in Saudi Arabia during the last four years.
It said the country’s private sector registered a 130 percent increase in the number of working Saudi women during the last four years. Thirty percent of the total Saudi workforce in the private sector is now represented by women.
According to the report, Riyadh has the highest employment opportunities followed by Makkah.
Under the National Transformation Program 2020, the ministry has launched several projects, including allowing women to work from home, amid expectations that it would generate 141,000 jobs.
The project is proving popular among women, mainly for those living outside major cities in the Kingdom, as it provides them with flexible timings and enables them to avoid the challenges of commuting to the workplace.
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