The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Labor (MOL) has launched the third phase of its feminization program for stores selling clothing, under which failing to employ Saudi women at apparel stores in the country, especially female clothing stores and lingerie shops, would be a punishable offense.
Fahad Al-Takhifi, Assistant Deputy Minister for Development, said the Saudi Government was determined to implement the feminization program throughout the country and the Ministry had provided sufficient time to clothing shops in the country to gradually implement the program, reports Arab News.
Under the third phase of the feminization program, the Ministry would take necessary actions against the shops which do not abide by the new law of employing women in clothing stores, especially womenswear shops and lingerie stores, he added.
According to Mr. Takhifi, the Government would not be lenient with the stores which fail to implement the ‘Saudization’ (employing Saudi Arabian nationals) in lingerie shops and would continue inspections of stores across the country.
Meanwhile, retailers and traders claim the Government’s decision of implementing the feminization program has already cost Saudi businesses an estimated 800 million Saudi Riyals.
Mohammed Al-Shahiri, chairman of the textile and clothing committee of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), said that 25 percent of small and medium-sized shops in the country have shutdown, as the feminization program has adversely affected their business, owing to high costs, including expenses of employing women, the rising rents and the tax levied under the ‘Saudization’ program.
The feminization of womenswear shops is part of the initiative of ‘Saudization’ taken up by the Government to reduce the number of foreign workers in the country and ensure employment for citizens. 22 percent of the country’s workforce constitutes of women who are being affected due to an increase in the number of illegal workers in Saudi Arabia.
The stipulations by the Government for clothing shops, especially womenswear shops and women’s intimate apparel stores, include that employees at these shops should be only Saudi women, and the work environment should provide them total seclusion from male customers and workers, besides ensuring the safety of the shops.