While this ban on male sales clerks in lingerie shops has been looming for quite some time, it is really a fascinating sign of the increasing empowerment of women in the kingdom, in this case, as they push for more jobs and more rights. (Although perhaps a male sales clerk would have better perspective on what to buy!) Booz and Co. estimates that female unemployment in Saudi Arabia stands at more than 26 percent – four times higher than the rate of male unemployment. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has tried since the start of the Arab Spring to introduce new reforms, both economic and social, to the kingdom to appease citizens….Last September, he said that women would be granted the right to run for elections and vote for members of the consultative shura council (although they were not allowed to vote in the 2011 election, which came days after this edict). While folks in the West may regard these changes as smallscale, it is a big leap for the kingdom. (After all, the joke goes, who will drive women to the polling stations since women in the kingdom are forbidden to drive?)
By Emily Buchanan
BBC world affairs correspondent
A law allowing only women to work in lingerie shops in Saudi Arabia is coming into force.
Campaigners hope this will end decades of awkwardness in the Islamic kingdom where women have always been served by male shop assistants. The heated issue of the total lack of female shop workers in Saudi Arabia has simmered for years. Many Saudi women say they have felt particularly uncomfortable buying their lingerie from men.
Female campaigners recently increased the pressure for change through a Facebook campaign and a boycott of lingerie stores. Now King Abdullah’s royal decree finally comes into effect, banning male staff from selling female underwear.
“It’s about time, it’s been a long struggle and the authorities have finally come to their senses,” says Radio Jeddah journalist Samar Fatany. (click here to read more…)