Saudi Officials Say More Professions Should be Open to Women

Saudi women walk out of a shopping mall as they wait for their driver to pick them up in Riyadh 14 June 2005. Saudi women hope to follow in the footsteps of counterparts in neighboring Kuwait, where women were granted full political rights and a woman minister was appointed. Saudi …
HASSAN AMMAR/AFP/Getty

(REUTERS) – A senior Saudi cleric and a health ministry official said women should be allowed to work as paramedics and opticians, Saudi newspapers reported on Monday, part of a push to relax strict labor codes in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

The government announced an economic reform plan in June that aims to increase the number of women as a proportion of the workforce to 28 percent from 23 percent by 2020 and to quadruple the number of women in senior civil service roles to 5 percent.

Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are forbidden to drive, making it harder for them to get to work. Regulations also bar them from certain professions, while rules on gender mixing in shops and businesses further limit job opportunities.

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