2003 Press Release

Saudi Arabia opens opportunities for women in the manufacturing sector

[Riyadh, Saudi Arabia] -- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently announced plans to encourage women to seek job opportunities in the manufacturing sector.   Women are encouraged to pursue careers in technological, automotive, and other industrial sectors.

Over the past two decades, the percentage of Saudi women in the workforce has grown from just 1% to 7%.  This number is expected to increase at an accelerated rate. Today, over 55% of university students are female.  Saudi women own 22,466 businesses in the Kingdom, representing about 20% of the total. They are active members and enjoy equal rights in the Saudi Chambers of Commerce, including the right to vote in the Chambers elections.

On September 7, 2001, Saudi Arabia became a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Crown Prince Abdullah has said: “We will allow no one, whoever they are, to undermine her [woman] or marginalize her active role in serving her religion and country”, and believes that women should be allowed to contribute fully to society and take part in dialogue over their future.

The decision to encourage women to pursue careers in new sectors follows recent announcements regarding plans for economic reforms in the Kingdom.