The gender wage gap in Saudi Arabia is an issue that forms part of the country’s gender inequality battles. Despite holding prominent positions in the workforce and making valuable contributions to the country’s economic growth, women continue to receive significantly less pay than their male counterparts. However, progress has been slow and women are still fighting for recognition and regard for their rights in the workforce. The issue of gender inequality in Saudi Arabia has been a long-standing problem with women facing numerous obstacles when it comes to achieving financial equality and more.
The Gender Pay Disparity in Saudi Arabia
In 2019, the Saudi Arabian Human Rights Commission (HRC) published a report revealing a significant wage gap between men and women in the country. The report indicates that women in Saudi Arabia earn only 56% of what men earn, with every one Saudi riyal earned by a man equating to a mere 0.56 riyals for women. The report’s findings prompted calls for change from human rights organizations and advocacy groups. However, despite the widespread attention to this issue, progress toward closing the gender wage gap in Saudi Arabia has been slow.
Apart from the gender wage gap issue, women often face exclusion from higher-paying jobs in sectors such as engineering, finance and technology. Furthermore, women are less likely to receive promotions to leadership positions, which are typically associated with higher salaries.
A study conducted by the King Khalid Foundation in 2020 found that women in Saudi Arabia face underrepresentation in the labor force. The study found that only 22% of working-age women in the country are employed compared to 76% of working-age men. The low participation rate of women in the workforce is partly due to cultural and social barriers that discourage women from pursuing careers outside of the home.
Progress for Women
Despite these challenges, Saudi Arabia has noted some progress in recent years in regard to the gender wage gap in Saudi Arabia. According to a report by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, the gender pay gap in Saudi Arabia decreased by 7% between 2019 and 2021. Furthermore, in 2021, Saudi Arabia climbed 10 ranks in the global ranking of the gender pay gap by the World Economic Forum and advanced 12 ranks in terms of female participation in the workforce.
However, Saudi Arabia still has a long way to go in terms of achieving gender parity in the workplace. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022, Saudi Arabia ranked 127th out of 153 countries. The report highlighted several areas in which Saudi Arabia could improve, including promoting gender equality in the workplace and increasing the participation of women in the labor force.
To address the gender wage gap in Saudi Arabia, a cultural shift that promotes gender equality in the workplace is necessary. Employers need to ensure that women have equal access to career development opportunities and are promoted based on merit rather than gender. Furthermore, the government needs to take steps to encourage more women to enter the workforce, such as providing incentives to companies that employ women and investing in programs that provide training and support to women in the labor force.
The gender wage gap in Saudi Arabia remains a significant issue that requires urgent attention. Women in the country have a right to equal pay for equal work and the country as a whole will benefit from a more diverse and inclusive workforce. By promoting gender equality in the workplace and encouraging more women to enter the labor force, Saudi Arabia can take a significant step toward achieving true gender parity.
– Noura Matalqa