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Current Affairs

Saudi Arabia to get first woman train driver

Date: 01 March 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

More than 28,000 women have applied for the job of train drivers in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom recently opened 30 gender-neutral positions.

 

Background

Saudi Arabia is one of the most conservative countries of the world. The strict Islamic laws restrict role of women up to a large extent.

 

Details

The first step towards reforms started when women were allowed to drive in the country. The male guardianship rules were also scrapped in 2018.

 

The job description

  • The successful candidates will be driving high-speed bullet trains between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina after a year of training. 

  • The idea to include women for position was floated by train operating company Renfe. The company currently employs 80 male train drivers.

 

Significance for Saudi women

  • The country has one of the lowest women workforce participation rate. The role of women was restricted to certain professions such as teachers and medical workers. 

  • In workplace, they were required to follow strict gender segregation rules. The rate of women participation has doubled owing to reforms.

  • The crown prince has been making efforts to open up and diversify the kingdom’s economy. The reforms were in this regards.

 

The reforms in Saudi Arabia

  • The move has been seen as an attempt by Saudi Arabia to repair its image in the Western democracies.

  • The crown prince is projecting the kingdom as a modern country, in sync with the rest of the world. This is critical for his Vision 2030 plan to diversify the country’s economy.

  • The plan has set a goal of 30 per cent women’s participation in the workforce by 2030. It will also help deflect the attention from arrest of women activists.

 

Women rights in Saudi Arabia

  • Women in Saudi need a male guardian’s approval to get married or access certain kinds of healthcare.

  • Laws are biased against women when it comes to family structures, divorce and custody of children. 

 

Impact of the recent move on economy

The Kingdom wants to diversify economy. Women taking up jobs in service sector would help expand the country’s workforce and boost economy.