(MENAFN - Arab News) A group of Saudi women have broken social barriers by working in a meat plant in Qatif.
This has traditionally been a job only for men.
The women are processing 62 local meat products that are supplied to homes, restaurants and hotels.
In an interview with Al Jazeerah newspaper, Mohammad Hassan, chairman of the Khair Zad project, explained that the project started training women after opening a women's section in the plant.
"It used to be a small butchery, but after developing it into a larger plant we opened a new women's section.
We received 300 applications from women of different social backgrounds, but we preferred to hire women from low-income backgrounds.
We did not require any certificates from them, we only asked that they pass health requirements and were physically able to do the job," he said.
He said the lack of commitment and absenteeism in the men's section had pushed the plant to open the women's section.
"We trained and qualified these women in manufacturing, packing and meat safety. We removed all obstacles in their way.
We have canceled their night shift and have them working on a day shift from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in appreciation for social considerations. We also provide them with transportation.
This job helps them improve their lives," he said.
Hassan said the plant could begin exporting meat to neighboring countries with the help of the newly opened section.
Hana Zuhair, CEO of Prince Sultan Fund for Women Project, commented on the plant's achievement saying, "This will open more opportunities for women to be real partners with men in manufacturing and any other suitable jobs.
Saudi women have proved they can produce when given the opportunity away from more traditional jobs."
Fatimah Ameen, one of the women working in the plant, said that in the beginning she experienced difficulties in dealing with hand tools.
She said that the people also looked at her job with disrespect. "Now the company has provided us with new machines that have eased our jobs and shortened the time we spend on cutting and packing meat."
Wadeah Elawi, another woman at the plant, said that the obstacles she has faced have strengthened her willingness and insistence to prove that women are capable of giving and producing in any project that provides the right environment for them.