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Story Publication logo January 11, 2014

A Look at Working Women in Saudi Arabia

A Saudi employee helps a customer at a dress shop in Al Faisaliah Mall. Image by Kate Brooks. Saudi Arabia, 2013.

An emerging class of female retail workers is raising new questions about the direction of the Saudi...

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Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s lowest rates of female participation in the labor force. It was a mere eighteen per cent in 2011, according to the World Bank. Image by Kate Brooks. Saudi Arabia, 2013.

In Saudi Arabia, there have long been a group of elite women who have been able to work in specific jobs — as doctors or teachers. But retail was closed off to them, until a 2011 decree from King Abdullah, allowing women to work in lingerie shops.

Pulitzer Center grantee Katherine Zoepf visited Saudi Arabia to understand what it means to have women in the Saudi workforce. It's the subject of her recent article in The New Yorker, "Shopgirls: The Art Of Selling Lingerie."

She joins Here & Now's Meghna Chakrabarti to discuss what she learned.



Three women grouped together: an elderly woman smiling, a transwoman with her arms folded, and a woman holding her headscarf with a baby strapped to her back.


Gender Equality

Gender Equality
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Labor Rights

Labor Rights

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