Saudi working women encouraged by transport subsidies

Transportation costs for working women in Saudi Arabia can make a huge dent in a paycheck.

That was the case for Ibtesam al-Anazi.

"One of the most difficult things that I've been facing before was transportation. (flash) The only choice I had before was a personal driver, public transportation or by (ride-hailing) applications that were taking a huge amount of my salary.”

But then, she found out about the Wusool Program, which covers 80% of transportation costs for working women.

Launched in 2017, the program provides women with safe transportation services to and from their workplaces using licensed taxis.

When booking a taxi via a ride-hailing application, registered program members have the option to select 'Wusool' to unlock the discount.

It comes as part of a wider governmental scheme trying to increase women’s participation in the workforce under the 2030 vision announced by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Women like Nima al-Anazi are feeling the difference it makes in their lives.

"I have noticed a huge difference in my salary. I am saving 80 percent because the application Wusool is covering 80 percent (of transportation costs)."

The program was set up by the Human Resources Development Fund, a Saudi governmental authority under the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.

More than 90,000 Saudi women working in the private sector have benefitted from the program so far, according to the enabling programs manager at the HRDF, Nouf al-Qahtani.

"Speaking by today's numbers the percentage of Saudi women in the labor force has increased from 19 percent in 2017 to 31 percent at the end of the first quarter 2021."

“Therefore, I see it as one of the easiest applications that encourages Saudi women to join the job market or find a public job.”

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