By Abla Morshid
One of the objectives of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is to provide citizens with decent jobs and equip them with the knowledge and skills that the market requires. The ministry also aims to empower women and create job opportunities for them in the private sector. However, job opportunities for women continue to be limited. The ministry should, in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030 and the Transformation Program 2020, create more job opportunities for women and reduce unemployment among women.
The ministry should ensure that women play an important role in all sectors and be regarded as a vital human resource, without any discrimination. This requires the ministry to pass laws that empower women more and increase their chances of finding decent jobs. Allowing women to drive could help the ministry create more job opportunities for women.
Women could work as taxi drivers. Allowing women to do that would enhance their sense of security and safety. It would also help reduce our reliance on non-Saudi taxi drivers and reduce the number of expatriate workers in the taxi business.
Women driving could also solve the transport problem faced by working women who often leave their jobs because of the difficulties they face finding transport. Women could drive their own taxis and not be forced to work for companies.
In the third quarter of 2016, the unemployment rate was 12.1 percent but in the fourth quarter this increased to 12.3 percent. Official statistics show that 34.5 percent of Saudi women are unemployed. If we allow women to drive and work as taxi drivers, the unemployment rate would definitely go down. When Uber and Careem started operating in the Kingdom, many young Saudi men joined to increase their incomes. Women should not be deprived of equal opportunities, especially since driving a taxi does not require a lot of skills, just knowledge of how to use Google Maps.
We should understand that hiring a Saudi man or woman is better than hiring a non-Saudi person in terms of economic benefit, even if the Saudi costs more. Let us give Saudi women a chance.
Is there anything in the Shariah that prohibits women from driving? If women were allowed to drive, then would all women drive and would they all be required to have cars? Are the views of those who oppose women driving based on logic and reasoning? It is important that the issue of women driving is dealt with properly to reduce gender discrimination.