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UN rights chief chides Gulf states over women`s employment

Last Updated: Sunday, April 25, 2010 - 09:14

Abu Dhabi: UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Saturday criticised restrictions on women`s employment in some Gulf counties and called for those barriers to be lifted.

"Women now have access to higher education in all six" Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Pillay said at a news conference in Abu Dhabi.

"The next stage, which I hope will quickly gather momentum, is to ensure that all these educated young women have access to meaningful careers."

In Saudi Arabia, "we met a young lawyer with 10 years` legal experience in the UK -- (she) cannot use it in her country," Pillay said.

The lawyer "would like to come back, make a contribution, (but) doors are closed. It doesn`t... make economic sense not to open up employment for women, and to lift restrictions."

She also criticised the system in most Gulf countries under which migrant workers must be sponsored by a local employer.

"Many problems have arisen through the lack of protection safeguards in the so-called `Kafala` or sponsorship system that leaves migrant workers vulnerable to an unequal power relationship with their employers," Pillay said at the news conference.

"The treatment of migrant workers was a major point of discussion" in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, she said.

Pillay has visited those countries as part of a continuing tour of GCC states. She is to due to leave the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for Oman, the last stop on her trip.


First Published: Sunday, April 25, 2010 - 09:14

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