(MENAFN - Arab News) The 2013 budget that allocates SR 2 billion from the 2012 budget surplus to implement transport projects inside cities have made women optimistic about the possible changes concerning transport and employment.
This confidence is understandable as a recent law that allows women to work in lingerie and accessories stores as well as the upcoming industrial city for women in Hofuf - first of its kind - has rightly made Saudi women hopeful of new employment opportunities in near future.
The issue of transport is then of common concern for women, regardless of their professions and education. They all aspire the availability of public transportation to go to their jobs and businesses without spending three quarters of their income on drivers or taxis, as is the case now.
"Transportation was the common obstacle in face of the wider participation of Saudi women in the workforce, as found in many surveys that address the percentage of women employment and participation in the job market," Huda Al-Jressi, a businesswoman, told Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.
One survey found that 60 percent of college graduates are women; nonetheless, they acquire only 15 percent of the job market.
"This small percentage will increase when public transportation is provided," she said, adding that demanding employers to provide transportation is unreasonable and will not be enforced, as much of the businesses are small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
She pointed to the anticipation of the new budget to allocate a portion for SMEs, and open opportunities for them to compete on government tenders, so that they will not be restricted to major international companies.
"Most women are in bad need for training and rehabilitation to enable them to enter new fields of business." Al-Jressi said she is optimistic about the new budget in light of the jobs women assume in lingerie shops. In addition, women are already working in about 14 plants, up from only three, and more is expected in the coming period.
Abeer Al-Harbi, a saleswoman, said she is also optimistic about the budget and hopes that the problem of transport will be solved soon.
Last year witnessed the enrollment of girls at Nora bint Abdul Rahman University as well as completion of a university city for young women with a budget of SR 8.3 billion to accommodate 30,000 women students.
"This project created more positions for women, such as safety supervisors for each building, with integrated evacuation plans in case of emergencies. It also created the position of deputy of university affairs for women, who will be responsible for the campus. It is the first time this position is occupied by a woman," said Eynas Suleiman Al-Essa, dean of the scientific department and medical studies, and deputy assistant for academic affairs at King Saud University.
She stressed that all women departments followed a rational governance, as each faculty would have a president and a deputy, with faculty women also being members in the department council, with the right to vote and participate in the decision making process electronically.