The kingdom is ranked 107th in the world for equal pay.
Members of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council, the kingdom’s advisory committee, are demanding the formation of a special committee to address pay equity.
Councillors Latifah Al-Shalaan and Moudi Al-Khalaf brought the issue up, the Saudi Gazette reports.
While pay disparities and discrimination against women are both illegal in the kingdom, Saudi Arabian women are paid 56 per cent less than their male counterparts, the paper says.
Al-Shalaan and Al-Khalaf cited last year’s Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum in their address to the Shoura. That report places Saudi Arabia 107th in the world for pay equality, making it the lowest in the GCC.
Saudi women also face the highest unemployment rate in the world, the members said according to Gulf Business.
Moves are afoot in the kingdom to change that, though. As part of Vision 2030, the country’s ambitious post-oil economy plan, leaders hope to lift women’s participation in the workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent 2020.
Women’s involvement in public life is on the rise, with this June seeing the end of the Saudi ban on women driving. This past weekend, Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City stadium opened to women for the first time, with others around the country to follow suit as matches come up.
The kingdom is opening up to the rest of the world, too, with its first tourist visas to be issued this year.
Under that scheme, women under 25 will need to be accompanied by a male chaperone, and women over that age will need to be part of a licensed tour group if travelling alone.