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SAUDI ARABIA: Health ministry mulls law to allow female pharmacists, opticians to work in public

March 28, 2010 | 10:54 am

Pharmacy-AP Saudi Arabia has been inching forward in its efforts to bring a measure of gender equality to the kingdom, starting by removing some professional barriers to women.

Last month the justice minister announced his intention to back a law that would allow female lawyers to argue in court, and now the Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh is reporting that the Ministry of Health is considering a similar law for women in certain fields of healthcare.

The proposed law would lift a ban on female pharmacists and opticians working in pharmacies, community clinics and optical shops. Currently women in these fields are not allowed to work outside hospitals.

Dr. Aysha Netu of the Jedda Chamber of Commerce, which is lobbying for the new law, told Al-Riyadh (Arabic link) that over the last three years, more than six times more women than men have graduated from King Saud University in these two specialties.

Dr. Netu denied that the new law represents a serious challenge to societal norms, as the men who now interact with female staff in hospitals are the same who frequent pharmacies and clinics.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Women in Saudi Arabia may soon be allowed to work in pharmacies, community clinics and optical shops. Credit: Lisa Poole / Associated Press
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