Monday, 19 November 2007
By Adel Al-Malki
JEDDAH - The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) has called for the investment of some SR50 billion funds of women in banks on productive projects especially relating to education.
The funds are "frozen" in bank accounts since women cannot use this without permission from their husbands. Saleh Al-Turki, Chairman of the JCCI, said that because of lack of work opportunities for female graduates, there is a general impression that education is not a wise investment to make. This belief partly causes an increase in living dependency up to 70 percent, he said.
Al-Turki said there is a need for an equitable distribution of opportunities for women who want to seek work in sectors other than health and education. "We have to review and expand the educational system in order to meet the needs of the labor market, taking into consideration how it would open up opportunities to our female graduates and the expected increase in population of the Kingdom in the next 10 years," he said.
The budget for girls' education this year is estimated at SR34 billion.
Women represent 56 percent of university graduates, 14 percent of the Saudi labor force and 30 percent of those who work in government.
About 20,000 women own commercial establishments and 21 percent run them, with consent from their elders.
The education sector employs 85 percent of total working women. Others are employed in the health sector.
Al-Turki said there is also a need to open the way for businesswomen to invest in the industrial sector in particular to further boost the economy.