Call to amend law to help working Saudi women with children

October 8, 2012

An employment expert has urged the Saudi authorities to amend an article in the women’s labour law to help employees with the right to a nursery for their children.

Under Article 159 of the law related to women working in the private sector, an employer who has 50 or more women employees must establish a nursery for their children aged less than six years old.

“This figure now is too high as the number of women in most work places is less than 50 and this puts them in a difficult situation when they want to secure a safe place for their babies,” Ala’a Bokhari said. “The companies use the small number as an excuse not to open a nursery or a kindergarten for their employees’ babies and children,” she said in remarks published on Wednesday by local Arabic dailyAl Sharq.

The employees are often obliged to take their children to nurseries and pay fees that bite into their budgets, she said.

Ala’a’s move for the amendment of the article echoes passionate calls by Saudi women teachers to the education ministry to open up nurseries and kindergartens in all schools.

The petition was launched online this week following the murder of a four-year-old girl, Tala, by the family’s helper while the mother, a middle school teacher, was at work in the Red Sea city of Yanbu.

The teachers in their petition said that they would feel at ease if their babies or children were left in the care of a nursery or a kindergarten in the school.

“We believe that a nursery at the school is the best solution to alleviate our concerns,” Reem Saleh, a teacher in Hael in northern Saudi Arabia, said. “Recruitment agencies are interested mainly in making profits and this could affect their selection of the helpers.”

Abeer Al Abdullah said that nurseries in schools had become a necessity.

“The teachers deserve the special attention,” she said. “The only reason I have a helper at home is to provide care for my children while I am at work. School nurseries could reduce reliance on domestic helpers.”

Hanan Al Malki, from Jeddah, said that she looked forward to the case of women in Egypt and Sudan.

“They go out in the morning with their children and they take them back home when school is over without the need to leave them in the care of a domestic helper,” she told the daily.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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