Monthly, a Saudi college student spends $535 (2,000 riyals) for a minibus that drives her to and from school. Without the minibus, she would need a taxi or a male driver because religious law prohibits her from driving her own car. When she graduates, getting to work would be equally burdensome.
In 2019, female university students might find it easier to get to school and work when a new Riyadh subway will be completed. Described as technologically and architecturally state-of-the art, it will have “family friendly” cars in which women, separate from men, can ride. Still though, they probably will be going from their female subway car to their female university or a to a work place where women are physically separated from men.
The Saudi gender gap is considerable. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2012, Saudi Arabia is ranked 133 out of 135 countries. One objective of the rating system is to enable us to focus on the size of the gap. Nations that have a narrower gap receive a better score. You can judge for yourself how well the Saudis are faring on the economic front:
Labor force participation, wage equality, and the female/male ratio of professional and technical workers are several of the economic variables that the Gender Gap report used to evaluate nations. At 133 in the economic participation category, Saudi Arabia did not fare well whereas Finland, Norway, Sweden, Ireland and New Zealand were consistently at the top.
The contrast between educational and economic empowerment particularly grabbed me. Do note the position of the Saudi Arabia coordinates. So high on the educational scale, they are low on the economic bar.
Can a 6-line subway that costs $22 billion narrow the Saudi gender gap?
Sources and resources: Described here, the Saudi subway sounds amazing and makes the data in the WEF report (graph source) even more unsettling. At econlife, we discussed other Saudi gender issues here and the Telegraph was the source of the subway station rendering.