Saudi Arabia says 'men only' job ads are illegal

Saudi Arabia says 'men only' job ads are illegal
The Saudi government has enacted a series of social and economic reforms under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
3 min read
23 February, 2021
Companies in Saudi Arabia can't discriminate according to gender, the government said [Getty]
The Saudi government has said that "men only" job advertisements are banned and reiterated that gender-based employment discrimination is illegal, local media reported on Tuesday.

The statement came after anger in the kingdom over a company's "men-only" job notice, which was brought to the attention of the ministry of human resources.

"The advertisement is in contravention of Article 3 of the Labour Law," the ministry responded, according to Saudi Gazette.

The ministry added all forms of discrimination, including gender-based, during the recruitment of Saudi workers and in employment are illegal under the labour law.

Saudi Arabia had some of the strictest gender separation laws and restrictions on women's movement in the world, making access to work difficult for women.

Among the limitations were a driving ban for women and rules that gave male guardians the right to decide whether their daughters, wives or sisters could work or travel. Offices were also divided according to gender.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has enacted a several landmark social reforms, including lifting the ban on women drivers and easing guardianship rules.

Mona Alghamdi, a member of Saudi Arabia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, said the reforms had transformed the kingdom for women.

"The kingdom has taken strict decisions towards criminalising sexual harassment at workplace in the public and private sectors," Alghamdi said, according to Gulf News.

Yet the reforms have also coincided with a crackdown on activists, including women's rights campaigners such as Loujain Al-Hathloul who was detained in 2018 and released on 10 February 2021 after international uproar.

Last week, a Saudi anti-terrorism court also sentenced a human rights defender to eight years, a rights group reported on Saturday.

Israa Al-Ghomgham, 32, will also face an eight-year travel ban after she serves her sentence, the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) reported.

Her verdict remains preliminary and subject to appeal, the GCHR said.

Saudi Arabia announced this week that women would be allowed to join the military.

Saudi women can apply to join the military via a unified admission portal, the ministry said, adding that ranks women join include soldier to sergeant in the army, air forces, navy and the armed forces' medical services.

While the usual criteria for acceptance, which include a clean record and being medically fit for service, are maintained, additional requirements were also added for women applicants.

Women must be between the ages of 21 and 40, have a height of 155 cm or taller and cannot be a government employee.

Women applicants must also hold an independent national identity card and have at least a high school education. Applicants married to non-Saudi citizens will not be accepted, the ministry said.

Agencies contributed to this story.


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