Saudi retailers largely unprepared for 100 percent 'feminization' at women's shops

Published March 28th, 2016 - 02:00 GMT
The Saudi labor ministry insists on feminization of all positions in the women's retail sector, including managerial jobs. (AFP/Amer Hilabi)
The Saudi labor ministry insists on feminization of all positions in the women's retail sector, including managerial jobs. (AFP/Amer Hilabi)

The Ministry of Labor is insisting on 100 percent feminization of all positions in retail stores selling women’s accessories in major cities of the Kingdom, according to a ministry source.

He said the ministry cooperates with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs to enforce the decision. The source said the two ministries are in the third phase of the drive to feminize of women’s retail sector.

“The third phase was supposed to start last October and this month was supposed to be dedicated to the feminization of women shops in small governorates. The plan was delayed as there were many adjustments that needed to be completed in order to feminize many of the shops,” said the source.

The source also said the ministries have defined the products sold as women’s accessories in those shops.

“The ministries have listed perfumes, mother care products, women’s clothes, shoes, bags and purses, socks and tights and ready-to-wear clothes as products to be sold exclusively in women’s shops. Many women retailers have requested the Ministry of Labor to extend the feminization deadline to give them a chance to renovate the workplace to make them suitable for women staff,” said the source.

He also said the business owners were not ready to hire women in their shops as the shops did not meet the safety and privacy requirements for women’s work environment set by the Ministry of Labor.

The labor offices in various governorates have cooperated with the corresponding municipalities to run inspection campaigns on women’s shops to ensure that the business owners comply with the regulations and hired women to work in these shops, said the source.

He also said business owners have expressed their view that feminizing kiosks in street markets is posing as a challenge due to the unsafe work environment.

“Some owners have also expressed that some businesses are startups that do not have budgets to hire fully committed female workers. These businesses can be shut down if the Ministry of Labor does not excuse them,” said the source.

He said the Ministry of Labor insisted 100 percent feminization of all positions, including managerial jobs, in women’s retail sector.
“Men are prohibited from working in the sector. The Ministry of Labor has set penalties, including fines reaching up to SR50,000, closing down the business or both depending on the violation,” said the source.


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