IKEA has come under heavy criticism in its home market Sweden after it airbrushed women out of its latest catalogue in Saudi Arabia, raising questions about its policies toward gender equality.
The women removed from pictures in the catalogue for the conservative Islamic kingdom included one in pajamas in front of a bathroom mirror and one of IKEA’s female designers.
Women in Saudi Arabia are barred from driving and must have the consent of a male “guardian” to travel abroad, work or have some types of elective surgery.
Sweden’s European Union Minister Birgitta Ohlsson on Twitter called the move “medieval,” while European Union Minister Ewa Bjorling noted that women cannot be airbrushed out of reality.
IKEA has airbrushed women out of several Saudi catalogues since its first store opened there in the 1980s. In a statement, IKEA Group said excluding women from the Saudi version of the catalogue was not in line with its values. IKEA on its websites says women change the world and that taking responsibility for people is a prerequisite for doing good business.