Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Saudi royal government tries to educate women, who face "brick wall" in employment

Kevin Sullivan, reporting for the Washington Post from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has a front page story Tuesday November 13, 2012, “Saudi women: educated but jobless: Young females with government-funded programs face ‘brick wall’ of restrictions”, and titled “Saudi Arabia struggles to employ its most educated women”, link here

The royal family and government have recently supported female education (in stark contrast to the attitude of the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan), but local religious rulers make visible professional employment of women difficult in the kingdom in most areas. Curiously, not following government would be seen as “libertarian” in western countries, but not here.

Saudi (and other Islamic) religious rules separating women in public and requiring their covering with burqas, veils or abayas and often prohibiting most outside employment.  These rules seem designed to protect the sexual investment of men in marriage in a conservative culture, seemingly by giving men a sense of “ownership” that would seem wrong in western culture.
 Contractors often fill lower paying jobs or those with special skills (including a lot of information technology).  Western companies can have difficulties placing female contractors in these positions.  In the 1980s in Dallas, I worked with a man who had contracted in Saudi Arabia and lived on an American compound. He reported that “religious police” still visited their compound looking for alcohol and women.
In 2011, when I worked for Census on special surveys, I had conducted an interview of a wife of a Middle Eastern man on an initial first personal visit.  That evening, I got an angry phone call from the husband for speaking to his wife when she wasn’t present.  I was quite disturbed by this at the time.  His attitude was even more absurd because I am gay. 
Yet, there is a YouTube video from Newsy reporting that Saudi Arabia plans to build a city where only women are allowed:

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