Saudi Arabia celebrates first ever Women’s Day to fight for gender equality

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In a country where women are denied some of the basic rights, the observance of Women’s Day is path-breaking.

International Women’s Day is widely celebrated across the globe where people pledge their support for gender equality and celebrate the achievements of women and has become a regular event in the social calendar. Yet, many countries beyond this ambit and Saudi Arabia is one such nation where many basic rights are denied to its women. But in a great move, the orthodox country celebrated its first ever Women’s Day. The just concluded affair in Riyadh saw members of the royal family participating as well in a bid to fight for women’s rights.

The three-day gathering, which was held from February 1 to 4 at the King Fahd Cultural Centre, featured talks from advocates of a woman’s right to drive, as well as other legal rights for women, including freedom of guardianship,” the Emirates Women said in a report.
In the ultra-conservative kingdom, women are denied many things that might seem extremely unobjectionable, such as driving, going out on their, a trial of clothes before shopping, participating in sports and interacting with any men outside the family. In fact, according to The World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap report, Saudi Arabia ranks at 134 out of 145 countries for gender equality.

The programme included panel discussions on various important issues and with the active participation from the royal family, the event was quite influential too. Princess Al-Jawhara bint Fahad Al-Saud hosted a discussion on women’s roles in education. While, “Princess Adila bint Abdullah Al-Saud, a known advocate of women’s right to drive, women’s health awareness and women’s legal rights, held a talk about the kingdom’s heritage,” the report added. Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, the president’s undersecretary for the female section at the General Authority for Sports, also highlighted the importance of sports.

General supervisor of the King Fahd Cultural Centre told the Arab News that Saudi Arabia wants to “celebrate the Saudi woman and her successful role, and remind people of her achievements in education, culture, medicine, literature and other areas”.

Sadly, it is the only country in the world that it prohibits their women from driving and the stringent guardianship laws many a time has left the world stunned. According to their laws, all women must have a male guardian, typically a husband, father or a brother, who gives them permission to study, travel abroad or marry. Making them basically secondary citizens in all aspects.

Though with certain adopted measures and reforms, domestic abuse has become illegal and women no longer need permission to work, the implementation in real lives is yet to be achieved significantly. It can be hoped that real programme and active campaigns such as these would help the women of the country achieve what they deserve.

Watch this video to understand how women are oppresed in the country

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