‘Implicit’ acceptance of gender mixing as Saudi women join the workforce

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Not many women in Saudi Arabia have a day similar to that of Manal Ghazwan and her two colleagues. Ghazwan, 30, who has a master’s degree in food safety management, is the manager of a Starbucks branch located in the Riyadh head office of Alshaya Company, which operates the franchise of the American brand in the Middle East.

For years labor laws in Saudi Arabia prevented gender mixing in the workplace. But Ghazwan and her team are unique, in that they serve a clientele of both men and women. “Lately, there has been an implicit and unofficial acceptance of gender mixing in the work environment here,” says Bader Aljalajel, who opened his coffee shop, 12 Cups, in one of Riyadh’s new glitzy boulevards in 2016.

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The Saudi Vision 2030 strategy, set by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, aims to increase female participation in the workforce from 22% now to 30% in all sectors in 2030. “There are now 600,000 Saudi women working for the private sector, 30,000 of whom joined the market last September and October,” says Khaled Abalkhail, a spokesman for the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. “This figure stood at 90,000 Saudi women only back in 2011.”

Source Credit: CNN News

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