"For me, it’s better to be separate. If we work with the men, I have to wear my abaya and my niqab – it’s less comfortable," says one woman who works in a segregated factory in Saudi Arabia where they are no men. Although the kingdom is notorious for being a man's world, not all workplaces are gender-segregated, a majority of companies prefer to separate the sexes.
Women are banned from working any job that is physically demanding
A country where women have the same amount of freedom as children, there are a lot of barriers when it comes to women going to work; the country wants a female workforce that will constitute of 30 percent of women, all while cracking down on women activists. In spite of the irony, there has been a 7 percent increase in the number of working women in the country, which lies at 16.8 percent, according to the World Bank. The law only allows women to work in jobs that do not threaten their health or are likely to expose them to risks. This means that women are "inadvertently" banned from working any job that is physically demanding, however, since January 2019, these segregated workspaces for women means that women are free to work without the interference of men since there are only women on the floor, or in all-female hotels or resorts. However, there is a massive wage gap, since women are paid a massive 56 percent less than the men.
There are so many women who have never been around men
In addition to such female-only workplaces, there is also the development of a women-only city which is being touted as an "oasis" "for women workers in [an] environment and working conditions consistent with the privacy of women according to Islamic guidelines and regulations." While the rest of the world is seeing an increase in the number of women-only co-working spaces, like US-based The Wing which has now also opened in the US, there are also women-only trains and carriages in India and Japan, however, few in Saudi Arabia can claim to have been founded by women for women. Many women prefer women-only spaces whether it's workspaces, gyms or cafe since they have more freedom here and can remove their Abayas. However, this trend can also pose a problem since there are so many young women who have never been in a mixed environment and suddenly women are afraid of being in the presence of men and vice versa.
Image credit: Fortune