GCC plan to tackle employment of unskilled women

Friday 27 September 2013

GCC states are discussing a plan for the employment of GCC women with low educational qualifications who are over 35 years of age, said a Gulf source. "The proposal will oblige contractors of the private sector to employ women in this category in projects pertaining to the government sector," said the source. A recent meeting held between representatives of GCC labor ministers approved a plan to enhance job opportunities for GCC women, said Fawzi Al-Majdali, secretary general of a program that deals with the restructuring of the labor force. A timeframe to finalize plans and programs had not been discussed.

Majdali said that each Gulf state would submit studies to employ women in the private sector. "Changing stereotypes of jobs that some regard as degrading are among the issues that the ministries' are addressing in tackling the problem of unemployment for women with low educational qualifications. These women, as well as elder women, cannot qualify to work in the public sector," he argued. He emphasized that the problem of older women who cannot find jobs is about to be tackled. "The ministries are trying to find a way out of this bottleneck through the private sector, mainly by employing them in available positions when private sector companies sign contracts to implement a government project."

GCC labor ministries are in the process of rehabilitating the work environment for Gulf women, said Majdali, so they can work in satisfactory atmospheres, which contain privacy, and in professions and sectors where there is no mingling with men. He pointed to a tendency nowadays to replace foreign women workers with a national work force, "But the process remains slow," he said. Majdali unveiled the commencement of activating a plan to exchange national workers between the countries of GCC. The first phase involves only males, to be followed soon after by women workers. "We are still facing issues in the implementation process. These will definitely be solved before the next ministerial meeting on Oct. 2."

Implementing new plans for national laborers need new regulations, he said. "The decisions and recommendations were approved five years ago. We now see that some Gulf states have embarked on amending regulations pertaining social security for when an employee works for another Gulf state." Aqeel Al-Jassim, director-general of the Executive Bureau of the GCC Labor Ministers Council, stressed the need for further coordination and cooperation between Gulf states on local and international labor issues.

The bureau reviewed a report on the implementation of labor programs to increase employment opportunities for national laborers. This year's discussions were dedicated to the development of employment opportunities for women. The 35th session of the Committee of Agents for Labor Ministries was concluded by raising a number of recommendations to the Council of Ministers of Labor, which will be hosted by Bahrain on Oct. 2.

© Arab News 2013

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