We present here the most important efforts made by the government of Saudi Arabia to achieve complementary equality between men and women in various fields, and to enhance their rights, support and care programs directed to them, aspects and programs for their empowerment and improvement of their work environment in all sectors.
The Equality Between Men and Women
The law of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, derived from Islamic law, adopt the principle of complementary equality between men and women, taking into account the characteristics of both sexes, to achieve ultimate justice. As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believes that the integration of the relationship between the sexes is an ideal way to promote and protect human rights and to guarantee the equality between men and women, such as the rights to work, education, health, economic rights and others.
Based on the perspective of equality and emphasizing it, the Human Rights Commission has allowed both women and men the right to submit communications according to the requirements via the link.
Equality in Workplaces and Wages
- To stop discrimination in the framework of work, the labor law has established a number of rights and duties on an equal footing between men and women, such as equal pay in the event of equal value and quality of work, and full equality in the search for work aid, and in training programs to obtain work. You can read more about Chapter Nine of the Labor Law, which provides articles for the employment of women under the labor law.
- Individuals, organizations, institutions and others have the right to submit a report or complaint on violating labor law matters.
Equality in education and training
The laws of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia guarantee to all citizens the right of free education without any discrimination, and in its belief in the importance of the role of education in achieving sustainable development and the realization of human rights, as:
The law stipulates the necessity of “the state's provision of public education and a commitment to combating illiteracy.
The general education policy emphasized the free education of all its forms and stages, and affirmed linking education in all stages with the state's general development plan that aims to achieve a healthy partnership between men and women.
- It is important to note that the educational system in the Kingdom is basically based on equality between men and women in all its aspects, whether it is related to admission and enrollment mechanisms, or with regard to curricula, exams, or what is related to the qualifications of teachers and lecturers, or in Quality of study facilities and equipment. Rather, women have received more attention in this aspect such as positive discrimination, especially with the continued establishment of a number of university cities for girls, such as Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University, and the university cities of Imam Muhammad bin Saud University and King Saud University.
You can also view legislation and decisions related to women's rights to education and training via the link.
Equality in grants and subsidies
Programs provide educational and training opportunities for both sexes equally, and in accordance with the same legal requirements related to admission procedures, and the percentage of scholarships directed to females has increased significantly, both in relation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques' foreign scholarship program, or in relation to internal scholarships in Saudi universities.
Equality in healthcare
The Law affirms the right of men and women to receive healthcare, as it stipulates: “The state cares for public health and provides health care for every citizen and his family in cases of emergency, sickness, disability and old age.” In this regard, it must be noted that this right is from The basic rights associated with every person, and all the Kingdom's regulations and procedures in effect in the health field guarantee enabling women from their right to receive healthcare, and there is no restrictive condition for exercising this right.
This right is guaranteed to foreign women residing in the Kingdom through the cooperative health insurance system, And other related regulations. Indeed, the regulations in force in the Kingdom oblige government hospitals to provide the health services necessary for an emergency, regardless of their gender or regulatory status, and these efforts have resulted in an improvement in the general situation in some areas.
The competent authorities have implemented a number of programs and mechanisms aimed at raising the level of women's health, including:
- The early detection of women's health clinic that provides mobile services, started in October 2014, that include early detection of diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and health awareness.
- Health education programs to prevent anemia and iron deficiency, which are being implemented continuously in schools, shopping malls, and waiting rooms of health facilities.
- Advanced Pregnancy Programs
- National Program to support Breastfeeding.
- Early detection of breast cancer program.
- The healthy marriage program, which provides services for the detection of some hereditary and infectious diseases among those who are about to marry, such as thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, hepatitis, and HIV.
- Programs against drug abuse and psychotropic.
- Awareness programs on balanced nutrition.
- Programs to prevent chronic diseases, prevent cancer and avoid its causes.
- Epidemiological control program.
- Anti-smoking and awareness of its harms programs.
The Kingdom also enables non-Saudi women to access health services, by receiving them in the emergency departments of public and private hospitals, regardless of any consideration beyond the current case. As for the regular health cases of regular residents, they are governed by the cooperative health insurance system, which aims to provide and regulate healthcare for all residents in the Kingdom.
Women Rights Guaranteed by Saudi Regulations
Laws and regulations issued in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia guaranteed women their rights, and took into account their status and circumstances, including:
- A woman has the right to cover herself or leave the house designated for inspection if she is not accused, and to be granted by the necessary facilities.
- If the accused woman is alone in the house designated for inspection, it is required by law to have a woman in the inspection team.
- Executive imprisonment is not permissible for a woman if she is pregnant or has a child under the age of two.
- The regulations stipulated that women must be granted their rights from inheritance and succession, especially real estate.
- A woman’s silence about her right to inherit does not mean that her right to inheritance will be forfeited if she asks for it.
- The Personal Status Courts consider marriage requests for those who do not have a guardian, and for those who have guardians, but their guardians prevent her from getting married.
- Preventing a woman from marriage is prohibited, as well as Forcing a woman to marry someone whom she does not agree. “Alshighar”, which is the agreement of two men to marry the women under their guardianship, is prohibited, too.
- Forcing a woman to marry someone whom she does not agree to, and forbidding her from marrying someone who meets the recognized conditions, is impermissible and forbidden according to Shari'a.
- Forcing a woman to marry someone whom she does not agree to is one of the pre-Islamic customs, and whoever insists on that, he will be punished with imprisonment and a bail should be paid.
- The waiting period for a woman whose marriage has been annulled begins from the date of the ruling, not from the date of ratification by the Court of Cassation.
- Compulsory implementation of the judgments issued related to child custody and personal status, even if this leads to the assistance of the competent force (the police).
- If the defendant did not appear in marital matters, custody, alimony, visitation, and guardians who prevent the woman from marriage, the court may order to bring him compulsory.
- Whoever refuses to implement a ruling issued in custody, state, or visit, shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding 3 months.
- The judgment issued against the wife to return to the marital home shall not be enforced.
- Expedited implementation of judgments issued in favor of women in some cases, such as alimony, nursing or housing fees, seeing a young child, or handing him over to his incubator.
- In matrimonial matters, custody, alimony and prevent marriage, a woman has the right to file a lawsuit in the court where she lives, and the defendant is required to attend the court.
- When registering her agency, it is not necessary to be for a related man (mahram).
- The judiciary issues two-time orders in favor of the woman, which shall be enforceable, in cases that the court deems to urgently remove the damage from her until the conclusion of her case.
- Giving the guardianship for a mother over her young children in the event of the death or loss of their father.
- Issuing two copies of the marriage contract, one for the husband and the other for the wife, in order to preserve her rights and conditions therein.
Empowering Women in Education and Training
The Ministry of Education has directed the provision of a number of educational and development programs to improve the environment for women working in the educational field, as it launched within the National Program for the Development of Education the initiative to improve professional and educational practices of female teachers, away from professional isolation, and present a series of lectures, seminars and workshops for female teachers in all regions and governorates of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believed in the role of women as leaders, therefore, it has appointed an official spokesperson for the Ministry of Education for the first time in the history of education and the first woman to occupy this position in a ministry at the level of the Kingdom.
- Public education: It is noticed that the net enrollment rates for females have increased from 2008 to 2014 at high rates compared to the rates for males during the same period.
- Higher education: the number of females enrolled in higher education institutions in 2015 (749,375) compared to the number of enrolled students from Males (778,394), and educational institutions continued to implement national plans aimed at preparing women’s human cadres to work in universities as faculty members through academic programs inside and outside the Kingdom, to address the great shortage of women’s cadre, whether from the teaching staff or from the assistance cadre.
- Training programs: the number of technical colleges for females has doubled in various regions of the Kingdom within ten years, as the first college was established in 2007, and in 2015 it reached (18) colleges, concerned with providing specific training for women to raise their efficiency and qualify them to enter the workplaces.
- Programs for continuing education: the Kingdom has paid special attention to this field, in line with its aspirations defined in successive development plans with regard to reducing the rate of illiteracy among women through legislative and non-legislative measures and activating those measures, most notably the implementation of the decision on compulsory education and the establishment of a government administration For adult education, it is concerned with preparing adult education plans and programs, and expanding the spread of general education schools in remote villages. And the opening of literacy centers in women’s reformatories, girls ’care homes, elderly care homes, charities and societies for Quranic education.
The Ministry of Education has launched a number of flexible programs aimed at reaching the targets, such as:
- Literacy Program
- City Without Literacy Program
- The “Qauafil Alnour” project, which uses mobile cars as classrooms with computers that travel in villages to eradicate illiteracy and awareness of rural women, and the Educated Neighborhood Program.
- The project of summer campaigns to raise awareness and eradicate illiteracy, which provides financial rewards to the beneficiaries to encourage them, and support services, such as school supplies, transportation and others.
Support for female teachers program
Program to support private school’s teachers’ salaries. It is one of the programs that contributed to raising the Saudization rate in private education jobs by increasing the salary scale and setting a minimum salary, so that the salary starts from 5,000 riyals plus 600 riyals. The fund also contributes 50% of the basic salary for a period of 5 years.
The Ministry of Education also provided working women with several services, such as:
- Creating jobs for women
- Creating a number of daycares for the children of female workers in the education sector
- Allowance for transportation
- Providing the opportunity for online education in universities to help women complete their education.
The Ministry of Health is concerned, according to the health system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, regarding maternal and child health and immunization programs by providing important educational information, in addition to a number of health services in the maternity and child care departments in its health facilities and facilities, in a manner that achieves the highest levels of satisfaction for the target groups and their families. These educational guidelines and services work to ensure that the family has a satisfactory and safer marital life, and also includes attention to reproductive health through obtaining a safe pregnancy and childbirth period to ensure the health of the mother and the child. It includes services related to maternal and child health.
Reproductive and Genital Health
The Ministry of Health implemented a system of fertilization, embryo and infertility units, and presented several important topics related to women's health:
- Problems with the female reproductive system.
- Women's health before pregnancy
- Women's health during pregnancy
- Women's health after childbirth
The Ministry of Health provides educational articles for women on several topics related to their physical health via the link.
Premarital screening is defined as testing couples who are planning to get married soon for common genetic blood disorders (Sickle cell anemia and thalassemia and sickle cell anemia) and infectious diseases (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS). The premarital screening aims to give medical consultation on the odds of transmitting the abovementioned diseases to the other partner/spouse or children and to provide partners/spouses with options that help them plan for healthy family.
Empowering Women in Training and Workplace
The Ministry of Education has directed the provision of a number of educational and development programs to improve the environment of working women in the educational field, as it announced, within the National Program for the Development of Education, the launch of the initiative to improve professional and educational practices of female teachers, away from professional isolation, and present a series of lectures, seminars and workshops for female teachers in all regions and governorates The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believed in the role of women as leaders, so it appointed an official spokesperson for the Ministry of Education for the first time in the history of education and the first woman to occupy this position in a ministry at the level of the Kingdom.
Labor Law/ Women Regulation
The Women Empowerment Agency seeks to create initiatives and projects that support the empowerment of women and people with disabilities in the Saudi workplace and work to implement them in order to achieve the goal of increasing women's participation in the labor market in order to achieve justice in equal opportunities in the labor market.
The Saudi Labor Law for employing women provides for:
- Women work in all fields that are compatible with their nature and it is prohibited to employ them in dangerous work or harmful industries.
- Women may not be employed during a period of night that is not less than eleven consecutive hours.
- Working women have the right to maternity leave for a period of four weeks preceding and six weeks following it, and the expected due date is determined by the facility doctor or by a medical certificate certified by a health authority, and it is prohibited to employ a woman during the six weeks immediately following delivery.
- The employer must pay the working woman during her maternity leave the equivalent of half her wage if she has one year or more service with the employer, and the full wage if her service reaches three years or more on the day the leave commences, and the wage is not paid to her during her regular annual leave if She had taken in the same year of maternity leave with full pay, and half of her wages would be paid to her during the annual leave if she had benefited in the same year from maternity leave with half pay.
- The owner of the facility shall provide full medical care to the working woman during pregnancy and childbirth.
- When a working woman returns to work after maternity leave, for the purpose of breastfeeding her child, it is permissible to take breaks in the aggregate that do not exceed one hour per day, in addition to the rest periods granted to all workers, and this period is calculated from the actual working hours, and it does not result in a reduction in wages.
- The employer may not dismiss the worker or warn her of dismissal while she is on maternity leave.
- The employer may not dismiss the worker during the period of her illness resulting from pregnancy or childbirth, and the illness is proven by an approved medical certificate, provided that the period of her absence does not exceed one hundred and eighty days, and it is not permissible to dismiss her without a legitimate reason from the reasons stipulated in this system during the one hundred and eighty days prior to the expected due date.
- In all places in which women work and, in all professions, the employer shall provide them with seats, to insure their rest.
- Every employer employing fifty or more female workers must create a place for caregivers for children in which there is a sufficient number of them to take care of the children of female workers under the age of six years, and that is if the number of children reaches ten or more.
- The minister may require an employer who employs a hundred female workers or more in one city to establish a daycare by himself or in partnership with other employers in the same city, or to contract with an existing daycare institution to take care of the children of female workers under the age of six years during work periods, and in this case, the Minister determines the conditions that regulate this daycare, and also determines the percentage of costs imposed on the workers who benefit from this service.
- A working woman whose husband dies has the right to leave with full pay for a period of not less than fifteen days from the date of death.
Pregnancy and Maternity Leaves
Among the rights of women in the labor law, is “maternity leave’s wage” which is set at the equivalent of half of her wage, if she has one year or more service with the employer, and the full wage if her service period reaches three years. She may be deprived of this wage as stipulated in Article 157: (The right of the worker to what she is entitled to according to the provisions of this chapter shall be forfeited if she worked for another employer during the period of her authorized leave, and the original employer, in this case, may deprive her of wage for the period of leave, or that He recovers what he performed for her). Therefore, every female worker in the private sector must review the system to know what she has and what she owes, to avoid committing a mistake that may deprive her of one of her rights stipulated by the law.
There are also rights for working mother related to nursing, as she has an hour per day that is counted from working hours, to nurse her child. The law has also been amended in this case of the decease of the husband, if she is a Muslim, so she has a leave of four months and ten days, and she has the right to extend it unpaid if she is pregnant during this period.
You can view the Women’s Employment Law in the Private Sector via this link.
Empowering Working Women
An interactive national platform, which is one of the initiatives of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, contains a database of women’s national leaders to facilitate rapid access to female leaders in the public sector, private sector institutions and civil society institutions. It will also document the stories and march of Saudi women's successes.
Tamheer training program provides:
- Preparing and developing the skills of the national workforce and providing them with the necessary expertise and skills in the workplace.
- Help to finding a job in the Saudi workplace.
- Training certificate after completing the trainee a training course from "Tamheer".
- Electronic training bags during the training period.
Working women Transportation (wusool)
This program, provided by Hadaf, aims to reduce delivery costs, ensure stability in the workplace, and provide a safe transportation.
Children's Daycare Program for Working Women (Qurrah Program)
A unified online portal that brings together everything related to the children's hospitality sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The portal aims to create a communication bridge between children's hospitality centers to offer and market their services to parents looking for centers to register their children, in addition to supporting the empowerment of working mothers to join the workplace and continue in it.
Freelance Financing Program
Development finance for self-employment constitutes a major player in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of those wishing to engage in self-employment and raising their productivity, skills and experience in appropriate, stable and productive work. The Social Development Bank shall work to develop and innovate a set of financing products to serve this beneficiary category.Click here to access freelance finance programs.
Social Support for Women
The Social Development Bank Program
The Social Development Bank is one of the important governmental pillars in the field of providing easy development financing programs for citizens. To enable them to play an active and influential role in the construction process, in addition to supporting small and emerging projects, given their high importance in building the Kingdom's economy, the bank has adopted strategies and plans to develop this sector and facilitate and accelerate the financing process through the project financing program.
The Social Development Bank has launched the initiative (Talat Almara’a) aimed at supporting women’s projects in partnership with the Ministry of Human Resources to support entrepreneurs, business owners and self-employed workers to launch development projects and ideas that serve women through various fields in all regions of the Kingdom, in addition to providing financial services represented in Financing self-employment projects, small enterprises, and non-financial services such as training and providing consultations. According to the agreement concluded between the two parties, a number of trainees will be qualified.
The bank provides many e-services and products via this website.
Widowed and Divorced Women
The Association for Support Widowed and Divorced Women was established in Makkah Al-Mukarramah region to provide services to the segment of divorced and widowed women in the community who have a number of important needs. The association seeks to provide the necessary and urgent support for them, which includes psychological, legal and social counseling in addition to providing housing and other needs. The support for this group is not limited to consultations, but rather, the association seeks to empower them in society by qualifying them in the skills of the workplace and trying to employ them in partnership with the relevant sectors. Through this program, the association seeks to convert this ambition into an institutional work so that it will be a sustainable project, God willing, in its fruit and societal impact, as well as in its financial and human resources.
The government support the widowed and divorced women by providing them with many services, such as:
- Alimony fund
- Housing support for widows
- Guarantee pension service for widowed and divorced women
- The KANAF program from the Development Bank for widowed and divorced women
- Association to support widowed and divorced women
The National Family Safety Program
Areas of work of the family safety program:
- Strengthening the Kingdom's role in the humanitarian fields and contributing to the creating of national regulations and policies to stop family violence.
- Contributing to preparing future national strategies and plans to stop family violence.
- Strengthening the partnership and solidarity with the concerned governmental sectors, non-governmental organizations and charities in order to unify joint national efforts, and work to overcome obstacles and duplication of goals and performance.
- Raising awareness of individuals and institutions about the harms of family violence and its negative effects on society in the long run.
- Rehabilitation and training of workers at various concerned authorities to deal effectively with family violence issues.
- Supporting services provided to victims of family violence and their caregivers.
Empowering Women in Justice
Requesting Reconciliation Services
The Ministry of Justice has allowed women to register with the "reconciliation center" as conciliators, as they can work on reconciliation in more than one dispute between the two parties to the same dispute, even if the terms of reference are different, through fully automated procedures, starting from submitting a reconciliation request until completing the reconciliation process, or not. So that the reconciliation sessions can be managed, and their records adopted remotely.
The female reformers who wish to register are allowed to choose the specialization that suits them from among the available specializations; These are: «family, financial, alimony, custody, punitive, traffic, real estate, commercial, and intellectual property» and others that the applicant can add.
To access the service, click here.
Empowering women as lawyers
The Ministry of Justice seeks to increase the number of Saudi women lawyers in the Kingdom, to enable them to contribute to the judicial participation and completion of cases, and to facilitate their tasks, by increasing the number of licenses granted to them and providing specialized training programs, and by providing them services through Najiz portal, such as: Lawyer license request - Lawyer license renewal request - Attorney data update request - My trainees (for the lawyer) - Inquiry about practicing lawyers - Training certificate request - Request for a trainee transfer from one lawyer to another - Request for a legal representative license).
To access the service, click here.
Obtain a notarized license
This service allows Saudi women to apply for a notarized license, and in the event that the data are filled out and the specified conditions are met, then they go to the nearest notary in their region to verify their data and attached documents, take a fingerprint and verify them.
The service allows female notary to issue agencies, document company contracts and terminate them, through offices of the private sector, and these offices operate throughout the week, according to an integrated electronic process.
To access the service, click here.
Women Empowerment in the Business
During the past period, the Ministry of Trade has taken a number of measures and programs to empower women in society and their participation in various aspects of economic life, with the aim of increasing their presence in economic and development activities in order to enhance sustainable development, and achieve the Kingdom's vision 2030, which aims to activate women's participation in the national economy, the most prominent of which is :
- Establishing business centers for women characterized by the application of the comprehensive employee concept, within a new and developed work environment that depends on modern technologies that facilitate procedures and save time for business women.
- Woman can start a business easily after removing the requirement for guardian approval, and equality in procedures between men and women.
- Woman can open business registrations, request registration of trademarks, reserve business names, practice freelancing, and register business agencies. All activities men can practice are permitted for women to practice, too.
Women in Politics
Women in the Shura Council
Believing in the role of women in the society, she was included in the Shura Council, in accordance with the rules of Sharia.
Women in government (Ministries Leadership)
A Qiyadyat program was established to empower women as leaders and create a suitable work environment for them.
- Manual of Women’s Employment in the Private Sector
Last Modified Date: 01/04/2021 - 10:06 AM Saudi Arabia Time