No waitresses allowed in restaurants

No waitresses allowed in restaurants
Updated 03 July 2013

No waitresses allowed in restaurants

No waitresses allowed in restaurants

Women are still banned from working as waitresses and cashiers in restaurants and are only allowed to work in the kitchens of these establishments, a Ministry of Labor official said here recently.
According to local media, Fahad Al-Tukhaifi, assistant undersecretary for development, said a ministerial decision was issued a year ago stipulating that women hired to work in restaurants must be limited to the kitchen and not perform serving or hosting tasks.
He said no instructions were issued concerning women working in grocery stores and laundries. He added that the feminization of abaya shops would be fully implemented on July 7.
Aisha Natto, a member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), said: “I respect the decision that they issued regarding women because I can see change coming in this country.”
“Since I am not from the new generation, I am witnessing the changes that are taking place with regard to Saudi women’s participation in society. Earlier, women had no say in any decision making.”
Natto said that although she is currently a JCCI member, two years ago she was not even allowed to enter the building because of her gender. “Today I am in a high position at the JCCI and own five companies.”
Natto said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has championed women’s participation in the work force with many decisions. “I encourage the idea of women working in the hospitality sector. Why haven’t they hired women so far? Women are capable of working in hotel management.”
Dalal Kaaki, a Saudi businesswoman at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “As a woman, I think the ministry has made the right decision because society is not ready for such changes at the moment. Women have proven they can do well in their role as cashiers. They are doing an excellent job in lingerie and cosmetics stores.”
Kaaki added that she is against the idea of preventing women from working as cashiers in restaurants, although she supports the ministry’s decision to not allow women to work as waitresses.
“A ministerial decision that was taken a year ago stated that women can work in any field except those that her body cannot handle,” said Kaaki.
“Jobs that require a woman dealing with chemicals, lifting heavy weights and exposing her to danger, either if she’s pregnant or a feeding mother would be an exception. But otherwise, women have the right to choose where they would like to work.”
She said that she respects the traditions of communities across the country. “We are different people and we all have different mindsets.”
She said the only obstacle hindering women from working as waitresses or as cashiers in restaurants is the fear of harassment. “Harassment happens all around the world. Officials are worried women would be exposed to harassment, so they have banned them from working (in these positions).”
Lina Mahmood, a Saudi sales woman at a popular cosmetics store, Paris Gallery in Jeddah, said that empowering women has been one of the best decisions taken by the authorities in this country. “Having my own job has given me some independence, meaning I don’t always have to depend on my male guardian for support.”
Mahmood said that the only obstacle she has faced so far is having to depend on a driver to take her to work.