The Pioneering Group
108 Saudi girls have decided to break stereotypes by taking jobs seen as meant for men only. They have taken jobs as waitresses. And where would there be such a sudden demand for so many Saudi waitresses? Where else but at the Haj? Their employer is Ghalib Bani, who runs a catering company, whose employees are mostly men.
Why The Young Ladies Took On The Job
In recent months there has been much controversy over the employment of women as cashiers in Saudi Arabia, so why did these young ladies decide to become waitresses?
One of them, Haseena Abdul Sabah, told Arab News, “I think if given a fair chance Saud girls can take up any job and discharge their duties with responsibility and sincerity on par with their male counterparts”. She added, “When we joined we were a little nervous to interact with male pilgrims but then we realized that they are guests of Allah and we have a duty to serve them. And as of now we have not faced an indecent behavior or encountered any unpleasant incident during are work”. She is the sole breadwinner in her family, and said, “To my father I am his ‘son’. He looks at me for all support as he is old and infirm with no source of income”.
Zainab Shams Al-Naher, however, took on the job because she needed her own money “to spend life the way I want to”. She said she did not like looking to her father or brother for everything, and thinks that the salary of SR 1000 ($267) for 7 days’ work is “not a bad deal”. Breaking taboos or being a rebel was not on her mind, nor was she trying to raise controversy. Yet she too felt people should be made more aware that serving at table was a job that women are able to do.
Another of the waitresses, Ashwag Ashraaf, believes that society’s ideas about women needs to change, and that “Both men and women should be given opportunities to excel in their fields, not only joining the unconventional works but also setting up businesses”.
All were aware of the unemployment problem in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, but thought that gender restrictions were not the way to solve that problem.
The Employer’s Perspective
Ghalib Bani said “We have a belief women serve better so it is best to let women work in the hospitality sector, like the rest of the world does. We are convinced about the idea and we want to make it succeed but we are implementing it in a limited manner—this will not happen quickly”.
Think About It
Is there any reason, apart from cultural ones, that women cannot serve at table? Might they even be better at their job than men, as Ghalib Bani believes? Would they be prepared to take lower wages than men and thus be exploited by employers? Will the day soon arrive when Saudi women will not have to face sex discrimination on the job market, and even be allowed to run their own businesses?
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