Saudi prosecutors to hire women investigators

Saudi prosecutors to hire women investigators
The kingdom's public prosecutor has announced new roles for women in its workforce for the first time, as Riyadh's Vision 2030 takes aim at female and youth unemployment
3 min read
13 February, 2018
Riyadh's 'Vision2030' plan aims to make the country less dependant on oil [Getty]
The Saudi public prosecutor's office announced on Monday it will recruit women as investigators for the first time, as the kingdom seeks to boost female employment under its reform programme for a post-oil era.

"Vacancies are available in women's positions on the staff of the public prosecution for the rank of lieutenant investigator," the office announced in a statement relayed by the information ministry.

The announcement is in line with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's high-profile Vision 2030 set of reforms that seek to elevate women to nearly one-third of the workforce, up from its current rate of about 22 percent.

The women of the oil-rich kingdom are mostly well-educated and keen to kickstart a career, with Saudi Arabia's passport department recently reporting that it received 107,000 applications for 140 vacant positions for women at airports and border crossings.

King Salman last year decreed that women would be allowed driving permits from June, an historic reform that could put not just millions of women behind the wheel but potentially many more into the workforce.

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Mohammed bin Salman, the king's son, heir to the throne and de facto leader of the country, is seeking a much-needed boost to the flagging economy, after it was revealed that the kingdom burned through a third of its foreign currency reserves in the three years that King Salman has been in power, as oil prices tanked.

Saudi Arabia's disastrous war in Yemen is also costing the public purse dearly, while Mohammed bin Salman's efforts to isolate the neighbouring state of Qatar have cost Riyadh much-needed political capital globally.

Bin Salman's campaign to revamp the ultra-conservative kingdom's image as a forward-looking nation comes amid the ongoing detention of hundreds of royal family members, clerics, power-brokers and writers in what has been billed by the regime as an "anti-corruption drive", but which analysts believe is little more than a shake-down to shore up support among potential rivals to the throne.

With two-thirds of the country's population under the age of 30, and youth unemployment reaching 40 percent in 2017, the young prince is understandably keen to reform the economy.

Back in the courtroom, however, the kingdom's women still face a number of crippling restrictions, including that under the Saudi interpretation of sharia, a woman's court testimony is worth half that of a man's.

Under Saudi Arabia's existing guardianship system, a male family member - usually the father, husband or brother - must grant permission for a woman's study, travel and a host of other activities.

Agencies contributed to this report.