Equal pay – International concern with hopes for a Saudi solution

International Women Day


Saudi Gazette

EQUAL pay is an international challenge for women and so is the case for employees in the Kingdom but women should expect the gap in the labor market to shrink thanks to what a human resource specialist calls “the golden age for Saudi women”.

Bassam Fitaini, a Saudi opinion writer and a social media influencer, speaking about equal opportunities stated that women have been given, in the past years, a number of opportunities some of which have came ‘late’. “We have not yet seen an appointment of a women minister, but this is just a matter of time,” he anticipated.

Fitaini confirmed that in some sectors women do not get equal pay. He elaborated that some obstacles do prevent women from working in some workplaces, where women are asked to provide male guardians’ permissions.

Commenting on this he said, “That is very shameful in this era. Work is a legitimate right for both genders and women are grown up and it is regretful that women need permission from someone else to be able to work.”

He said that some workplaces prefer single women to reduce health insurance costs and avoid maternity leaves, while calling on women to support each other, exchange experiences and skills, and enhance their training in order to pass knowledge to each other.

Professor Mohammad Ahmed Basnawi believes that equal pay does not exist, not just here but in different parts of the world including the West. He added that employers in different parts of the world still favor unmarried women because they have less excuses, no maternity leaves, and fewer family issues. Basnawi believes in providing women with education and skills needed in the job market in order to equip them. However, he still believes that women should be served by men.

Zainab Maghrabi, a human resource specialist, explained that women are now involved in Saudi labor market effectively on various levels at different companies and they produce excellent results. “Now we have women with rich experiences and great potentials in different specialties, which is aligned with our Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to prepare leading women.”

Asked about women getting equal pays and benefits in the job market, she said, “I do believe women are given equal opportunities and salaries tend to vary only depending on qualifications and experiences.” She added, “Saudi employees, regardless of their genders, are being supported and the focus in human resources is only on being fit for the job.”

What women need, however, is to prove themselves in the labor market, to consider punctuality and motivation, to learn more about developing their abilities, to become job oriented, and be open to new opportunities.

Lately, the Shoura Council has received a recommendation document from two women members that calls on the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to monitor all private establishments and observe their implementation of ways to bridge the equal pay gap between men and women — who do the same task.

The fifth subsection of the first article in Women Employment Manual at Private Sector issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development bans “any kind of discrimination in salaries between men and women who do equal value work.” Any unequal pay goes also against international agreements demanding equality between genders and prevention of any discrimination against women.

The document presented to the Shoura Council shows that Saudi women rank last in equal pay among GCC states and also ranks down the list in Arabic states in terms of salaries provided to women in comparison to men. The World Economic Forum 2017 revealed that the Kingdom ranks 107 in equal pay on the global level since women salaries are 44 percent less than men. A study revealed by King Khalid Foundation revealed that the gap between men and women salaries have increased from SR324 in 2014 to SR1,077 in 2016. The study noted that women participation in the labor market is 22.8 percent compared to men participation estimated at 79.5 percent.