The Saudi Ministry of Labor has accused shops that are supposed to be staffed exclusively by women of continuing to hire men in violation of a directive from two years ago. According to the directive, stores that cater exclusively to women, such as lingerie and cosmetics shops, should only have female employees, and ministry approval is not necessary to hire women to work there.
For more on Saudi women in retail, see:
- Cosmetics Venture to Employ Saudi Women
- Saudi Suspends Visas to Support Women’s Employment
- Saudi Women Telecommute to Retail Jobs
- Women Employed in Saudi Lingerie Shops
In response to the violations, the Ministry of Labor has brought a formal complaint to the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs. The latter ministry has promised to punish shops that continue to employ men, emphasizing its commitment to cooperating with the Ministry of Labor on the matter. The two ministries operate a joint committee that inspects the relevant stores to ensure compliance.
The Ministry of Labor and of Municipal and Rural Affairs have established a set process to ensure that only women are working at lingerie and cosmetics shops. The Ministry of Labor carries out inspections of these kinds of stores. It then notifies the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, which instructs municipalities to penalize the offenders in cooperation with labor offices. The labor offices are in charge of follow-up. Repeat violators will be forced closed.
Women’s employment is a major issue in Saudi Arabia, where the conservative culture generally limits career options for women to the education and medical sectors. As a result, the female labor participation rate was only 12% in 2011. Roughly 1.6 million women applied with the Ministry of Labor for jobs following royal orders that the ministry help Saudis find employment.