JEDDAH: Reem Assad, an investment analyst at Saudi Fransi Capital with over eight years of experience in investment management, was one of the first in 2008 to initiate the elimination of male staff from the female intimate clothing sector. “The contradiction is in the fact that we are supposedly the most conservative nation in the world and yet women here are required to buy undergarments from shops manned by men,” she has said.
Assad’s initiative started with a group on Facebook with only two active members. This quickly grew to 6,000 members and in 2009 she called for a two-week boycott of all lingerie stores to bring into force the directive of the then Minister of Labor Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi that only women be employed in lingerie shops. This directive was supposed to be effective in 2006, but was never implemented.
“Social media should be thanked for resolving so many of the issues we face today because, it spreads everywhere and cannot be ignored,” Assad said.
In her opinion, it is a great way to get the abilities of young women recognized by society.
“The Royal Decree that directs that only women can work in shops selling intimate clothing items means that 44,000 Saudi women will have jobs instead of staying at home and living on whatever their husbands or fathers can offer. Through this initiative, we have turned passive members of society into active contributors and we have given them the independence they need in a soaring economy,” she said.
Assad is thrilled that after four years of writing, speaking and working on this issue, the directive has finally been implemented. “I hope that what I have worked for meets with my expectations, brings economic balance, gives opportunities to those who need them and provides women with the protection of their modesty that they deserve.”