Saudi Arabia's Women-Only Industrial City Aims to Close Gender Gap

Caroline Davies reports on the development of a women-only industrial city in Saudi Arabia, that the government hopes will give women a more prominent role in their country's development while maintaining their second-class status.
August 15, 2012, 1pm PDT | Emily Williams
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In Saudi Arabia, the government-run Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon) is said to be moving forward with the development of a women-only industrial city, to be built in the Eastern Province city of Hofuf. According to Davies, the city, "is set to be the first of several planned for the Gulf kingdom. The aim is to allow more women to work and achieve greater financial independence, but to maintain the gender segregation, according to reports."

The development is an attempt to help close the 23% gap between male and female employment levels in the country, with plans to create "5,000 jobs in textiles, pharmaceuticals and food-processing industries, with women-run firms and production lines."

This is one of several initiatives led by King Abdullah in an effort to afford Saudi Arabian women more independence in a country famous for its strict gender segregation and discrimination. He has also "announced that women would be able to vote in the 2015 local elections and for the consultative assembly."

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Published on Sunday, August 12, 2012 in The Guardian
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