Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Islamic feminism

I once had an ancient 1954 World Book Encyclopedia. It had a large entry on "Negro" with such picture captions as "Smiling Pullman Porters help people on the train!" It talked about problems in the Negro world, such as the fact that there were far fewer Negro doctors per million Negro people compared to the number of white doctors per white people.

In other words, World Book was earnestly trying to be politically correct, while at the same time being unwittingly racist.

I am reminded of that article as I read this in the Arab News.

Saudi women need jobs, so let's give them jobs! As long as they are the right kinds of jobs...
JEDDAH, 11 April 2006 — The government’s decision to replace salesmen with Saudi saleswomen at lingerie shops will be implemented in two phases, according to Abdul Wahid Al-Humaid, deputy labor minister for planning and development.

Speaking to reporters in Riyadh, he said the sales jobs at lingerie shops along the streets, central markets and major shopping centers would be restricted to Saudi women starting on June 18.

In the second phase set to begin next year, sales jobs at shops of abayas and women’s readymade dresses will be restricted to Saudi women, the Saudi Press Agency quoted Al-Humaid as saying.

Last week, Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi said his ministry would not back off from the decision. “The directive is binding and there will be no retraction in its implementation,” Al-Gosaibi said. “Providing jobs for women has been a priority for decision makers in the Kingdom for more than 25 years.”

The Labor Ministry has launched a campaign aimed at employing 200,000 women. Some of the jobs that have been identified for Saudi women are receptionists, tailors, banquet hall employees, nutritionists, governesses, photographers, beauticians, caterers, and hospitality and recreation industry workers.