Lecture: Participating More - Labor Policy and Women’s Employment in Saudi Arabia”

Date: 2019-03-20

Public Lecture | | 2019-03-20

On Wednesday March 20th 2019, the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Evidence for Policy Design jointly hosted a lecture by Dr. Jennifer Peck (Swarthmore College), entitled “Participating More: Labor Policy and Women’s Employment in Saudi Arabia.” The lecture discussed the growth in Saudi women’s participation to the private sector since the implementation of the Nitaqat labor localization program in 2011.

In the lecture, Dr. Peck demonstrated that the quotas set by the Nitaqat program have encouraged firms to invest in their capacity to employ women; particularly, some previously all-male firms have shown a preference to hire large numbers of women at once; and these “newly-integrated” firms have then continued to increase their female hiring rates over time.

Dr. Peck argued that significant challenges remain, however. While hiring and retaining workers requires the whole employment pipeline to function smoothly, firms may experience or perceive barriers to hiring women at various points in that pipeline, such as recruitment, developing the workspace, complying with regulations, and providing training. Dr. Peck concluded the lecture by saying that policies to address up-front integration costs may have a large impact on the expansion of the female workforce in the Kingdom.