Al-Watan newspaper recently published a report under the headline “Saudi women break the disgrace barrier and work as cleaners”. I found it to be a well-balanced report that made an interesting read. However, many people who read it wrongly thought this is the first time Saudi women are taking up this honorable job.
Throughout elementary school and up until high school, I still remember how the majority of cleaners were Saudi women and they used to perform their duties diligently. So, there is really nothing new in the report except that Saudi women can now branch out and work as cleaners in tourist resorts, hotels and other places.
I think it is imperative that we expand work opportunities for uneducated women who are in need of jobs because, after all, hard work is much better than begging at traffic lights or hawking goods on streets where women can be subjected to all kinds of harassment.
I earnestly hope that people who oppose women’s employment will openly come out and object to women begging and selling goods on the streets.
Hard earned money is nothing to be ashamed about and what really disgraces women are the shameful jobs they may be forced to take under the unrelenting pressures of poverty. Simply put, work, regardless of its nature, increases the value of a person in his/her own eyes and in the eyes of others.
There are countless places where women can honorably and safely work such as at airports, stores and other places frequented by families.
Saudi women have achieved great success in various fields and are present in many professions but as long as we have uneducated women and a need for female cleaners, why don’t we limit the profession to Saudi women? Since they are not shying away from working as cleaners, the Ministry of Labor should move to make such jobs available exclusively to Saudis.
Doing so may not please employers who benefit from the paltry salaries currently paid to foreign cleaners but the ministry is capable of enforcing such a rule while ensuring that Saudi women are paid adequate wages.
Job opportunities should not be limited to educated women and we need to start thinking about all members of society, whether rich, poor, educated or not.
The dozens of e-mails I receive daily from women who are struggling to pay bills is a kind of humiliations to which women should not be subjected to. Honorable work is the only correct path to rectify such situations.