Saudi Arabia is seeking to increase the percentage of women in its workforce through a remote employment and work-from-home program.
The program is expected to create 141,000 jobs opportunities and increase female representation in the workforce to 28% by 2020.
Around 4,500 women have already enrolled in the program through five centers in Jazan, Qassim, Hail, Madinah, and Ahsa, a Ministry of Labour and Social Development official told Saudi Gazette.
The program is created with the hope of meeting women’s needs for flexible employment options, the official said, adding that Saudi women face social obstacles in obtaining suitable jobs such as not finding reliable transportation, and the family life imbalance caused by long work hours.
The initiative is part of the country’s National Transformation Plan 2020 and is intended to help diversify the economy.
Women form just 16% of the country’s workforce, according to 2015 estimates.
Women in the country currently face restrictions regarding their employment options and companies wishing to employ Saudi female staff is often required to set up segregated facilities for them.
Working from home using digital technologies can result in longer working hours, higher work intensity and work-home interference, according to a report by International Labour Organization (ILO).