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Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia

Laurenz Quinto

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Saudi Arabia has a population of 33,100,443 people with a 1.21 to 1 male to female ratio. That’s approximately 18,122,867 males to 12,977,576 females. Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, and restrictor of women’s rights. Its leaders, were willing to deny 12,977,976 women their right to drive.

The Islamic Civilization had been the forefront of several advancements and discoveries. From al-Kwahrizmi’s algebraic concepts to Ibn Sana’s Canon of Medicine, a five-volume work detailing the medical knowledge at that time to the arabesque designs featured on mosques, the Muslim world was known for its groundbreaking discoveries that would eventually come to influence western civilization.

The Muslim kingdom has been considered as one of the strictest and most conservative institutions in the world. Progress has been slow for the empire as they took the route of female oppression, limiting the roles of Muslim women in public life.

According to Islamic law, there is no explicit prohibition for women to drive. However, the government imposed the ban on women driving in support of conservatives who claim that female driving leads to a corrupted and sinful society. They also believe how it will damage the continuity of Islam as ovaries die due to female driving. There has been no evidence of this but the motive to further seclude Muslim women was clear.

However, this year, the Saudi Arabian government has issued a decree that lifts the ban. Women can finally obtain licences on their own accord without the permission of their male guardians. 12,977,976 women will be granted the opportunity to drive, those who are well beyond their years and those who are still growing.

Manal al-Sharif, the Saudi woman who defied the back in 2011 by driving to a grocery store without a male companion, tweeted of the occasion, “You want a statement here is one: Saudi Arabia will never be the same again. The rain begins with a single drop.” Abdalla al-Mouallami, Saudi Arabia’s UN representative commemorated the day as a “history day for Saudi society, for men and women.”

Of course, as it is with every step forward taken, there will be those who try to push them backwards. Opposition to the lift has been made by the conservative cleric, Saad al-Hajri, who claims that women do not have the intellectual capacity to drive. He is currently banned from religious activities.

Saudi women are expected to drive on their nation’s roads on June 30, 2018.

This decree is not the first nor is it the last development in the kingdom’s attempt to not fall behind while the rest of the world continues to make modern strides. This attempt, comes in the form of a program called Vision 2030. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman champions this program as it establishes a series of reforms dedicated to modernizing Saudi society. Just two weeks ago, women were allowed to enter the National Stadium in participation of the 87th anniversary of the founding of the kingdom. They were also permitted to attend a concert.

It is gradual, but forceful effort steering the Muslim kingdom into modern society.

 

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Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia