Saudi women break taboos with unconventional jobs

Updated 29 January 2014
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Saudi women break taboos with unconventional jobs

Financial hardship and social circumstances have forced many Saudi women to accept jobs that they would have rejected in the past for traditional reasons.
“After my divorce, I stayed at my parent’s house with my five children,” said Um Nawal, a 30-year-old divorced mother. Her father told her to give up her children if she wanted to live in the family house.
“I refused, left the house and rented a place of my own. A friend told me about a job as a saleswoman at a women’s shop,” she said.
Um Nawal said, “I really needed income for my children to live a decent life. I accepted, but was embarrassed at first. I have since become the director of the branch.”
She explained that not working for fear of social reprimand is redundant, especially if the job can be carried out in a safe environment.
Bariah Ali, an event manager at a hotel, agreed with her: “I am a divorced woman with no children, but my financial situation is poor. I badly needed to earn my own fixed income to live a decent life.”
She said she found this job “despite my family’s objections, who care for our traditions as a conservative family.”
“I now earn more than my sister, who has been working as a teacher for 15 years,” said Ali.
Asmma, a director of a women’s shop, said she got a job as a saleswoman within six months of her divorce.
“I needed an income to provide for my children and pay rent. There is no shame in a woman working to provide for her family if the job is within a decent environment,” she said. She added that Saudi women proved they could work and succeed in every field of work.
Abrar Muhammad, a social worker at a charity organization, said some families still hold on to the idea that women should work only in a limited range of jobs.
“Some of our customs and traditions have forced women to enroll in a limited range of functions that are difficult to obtain, especially in these present circumstances.”
She referred to women working in public places that many parents reject under the pretext of mixing with men. “Women working in compliance with Islamic law by wearing Islamic attire is a very important issue for both the economics of the country at large and for females and their families,” said the social worker.


Bamboo house for Manila slums wins top prize in future cities contest

Updated 20 min 14 sec ago
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Bamboo house for Manila slums wins top prize in future cities contest

  • The house, known as CUBO, uses engineered bamboo and can be put together in four hours at a cost of £60 per square meter
  • Of Manila’s population of 12 million, about a third live in slums

BANGKOK: The creator of a low-cost house made of bamboo to tackle the chronic shortage of affordable housing in the Philippine capital has won a top international prize to design future cities in a rapidly urbanizing world.
Earl Forlales, 23, won the first prize from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in its Cities for our Future competition. The prize money of £50,000 ($63,915) will fund a prototype, as well as actual units.
The house, known as CUBO, uses engineered bamboo, and can be put together in four hours at a cost of £60 per square meter, according to a statement released Thursday.
The modular housing, which can be manufactured in a week, includes design elements such as a tilted roof that captures rainwater and reduces heat gain, and elevated stilts that prevent floodwaters from entering the home.
“The world’s cities are growing all the time and there is a real need to make sure they are safe, clean and comfortable places to live in,” said John Hughes, competition judge and president of RICS.
“Earl’s idea stood out for its simple, yet well thought through solution to the world’s growing slum problem,” he said.
Of Manila’s population of 12 million, about a third live in slums, possibly the most in any urban area in the world, charities estimate.
Many residents are migrants from the provinces who come in search of better opportunities, and cannot afford housing. An additional 2.5 million migrant workers are forecast to move to the city in the next three years.
The National Housing Authority last year committed to building 800,000 homes over five years. The backlog for government housing in the Philippines is about 5.5 million, campaigners estimate.
Forlales, a graduate in material science engineering, said he took inspiration for CUBO from the bamboo hut his grandparents lived in outside Manilla.
CUBO will first be used to house the incoming worker population in the short term, and then extended to the city’s slums. The plan also includes options to provide residents with new skills and jobs, Forlales said.
“The affordable housing solution must necessarily be low-cost, sustainable, robust and long lasting. We cannot make do with band-aid solutions,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Housing opens up opportunities, so the solution must be decent and dignified, giving residents access to all necessary amenities for a better life,” he said.
CUBO can be built in any city where bamboo is available, including most of Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa and Latin America, he said.
The inaugural Cities for our Future competition — run by RICS and supported by the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO and the Association of Commonwealth Universities — drew more than 1,200 entries.