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Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia: Example of Political Life and Employment

Authors:
Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia: Example of
Political Life and Employment
The concept of international human rights is the idea that there should be some
foundational basis for how human beings should be treated across the globe. The
treatment of people around the world is generally consistent with the culture that
embodies the people of certain regions. The culture of many of these different societies
dictates unequal treatment between different groups of people based on gender, race, and
other arbitrary factors. In this way, the treatment of humans has been in flux and the
rights of some people have been limited if not void. This example is the case for the
women of Saudi Arabia. The women of Saudi Arabia have been exposed to unfair
treatment, but due largely in part to the progressive thinking and laws passed by the
current king of Saudi Arabia, we will in our lifetime see the liberation of women and see
them become close to men in Saudi Arabia.
Even though the Islamic law provided before one thousand and four hundred
years many rights for women through many regulations and laws, women in Saudi Arabia
have been subjected to this unequal treatment to men on and off for hundreds of years in
particular areas. It seems to be a never-ending case as the discussion about Islam and the
laws that are associated with Islam. Saudi Arabia is one of the centers of the heated
debate throughout the world regarding these issues because while Islamic Law is the
primary law of this country, there is an ever-growing presence from women and men in
the state and around the world who wish to see the liberation of women from the
previously held notions of female subservience to men. Consequently, there are many
scholars in Saudi Arabia who want to change the idea of women's rights in Saudi Arabia
to be compatible with Islamic law and the international human rights laws.
In last fifty years, women in Saudi Arabia were like second-class citizens after
men so that the issues of progressive movements for women in Saudi Arabia were rarely
discussed. However, the women of Saudi Arabia today are living in a time where they are
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starting to feel stronger about their rights and are beginning to voice their concern about
those rights. The first decade of the 21st century has proven to be a time when the
traditional mindset of Saudi Arabian women is beginning to change. While there are
many variables that could account for this change, technological advancements of
communication via the internet and social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter are
giving these women the opportunity to voice their concerns to a worldwide audience
while remaining anonymous.
Thus, the issue of women’s rights is one of the most hotly debated in Saudi Arabia
in recent years. Therefore, one of the biggest problems about the topic of women's rights
is that this issue includes many interpretations from the scholars of religion in Saudi
Arabia based on what they like. In addition, the topic of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia
includes many opinions from the scholars of west. Even though there are many scholars
who talk about the importance of women in the society of Saudi Arabia, there are many
challenges facing women in Saudi Arabia like their political rights and the
disenfranchisement that women face.
Whether somebody is for or against the liberation of women in Saudi Arabia is
contingent upon his or her individual beliefs, but I am choosing to discuss women's rights
in Saudi Arabia in politics and employment for a few different reasons. First, being that
women’s rights are also human rights makes it a topic that is consistent with efforts that
exist, categorically speaking, with other countries around the world as women’s rights are
not only an issue of concern in Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. Second, the decrease or
the increase of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is extremely reflective of the state of
Islamic Law in the country as well as the culture and the customs of the nation of the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Thus, it is most important to answer the question of how the
political climate of Saudi Arabia appears to affect the political life of women. Third,
because I am living in the United States now, which when compared to the human rights
climate of Saudi Arabia as being very different, I have been given an eye-opening view of
the dichromatic nature of the West and the East about women's rights. Lastly, I have a
personal inclination for dissecting this issue to criticize the rights of women in Saudi
Arabia either positively or negatively and to clear up any misunderstanding that some
people from different cultures may have about women's rights in Saudi Arabia.
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This paper will be divided into several essential parts for ease of understanding.
In part I, I will discuss background of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, beginning in Part
A with the general overview about the women in Saudi Arabia; and in Part B I will be
covering an overview for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Through part B I will give a
brief discussion about women’s rights per Islamic law. Part C will examine the different
sources that affect women’s rights and divide them into two major influences including
Islam and traditional tribal influence. In Part II, I will focus on the main issues of
women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, beginning in part A with the women’s rights in the
political life. Part B will be covering the women’s rights in employment and mobility.
Throughout the analysis of the two issues, I will include some cases, issues, women’s
NGOs, and examples to paint a clear picture of whether it is a violation for women’s
rights in Saudi Arabia or not. In Part III, I will discuss the rights of the women in Saudi
Arabia between today and the future, giving a general overview of foreign views for
women’s rights in Saudi Arabia in part A. In Part B, I will talk about the future of
women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Finally, in Part IV, I will offer a conclusion and I will
summarize how we can change women’s rights in Saudi Arabia to be better than they are
now.
This examination of my research topic is designed to look at the laws
surrounding women in Saudi Arabia from the past to the present day to identify specific
trends about where the state of women’s rights are headed and to the evolution of
feminine Islamic Law in Saudi Arabia. Through this paper, I hope to attain a higher level
of personal knowledge and information surrounding this topic. Also, I hope to educate
those who may want to know more about women's rights in Saudi Arabia. From this
research, I hope to help the reader understand the women’s rights in Saudi Arabia in the
political life and employment and to clear up any misunderstanding any member from a
different culture may have about the women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. In my personal
view, even though the future of women's rights in Saudi Arabia is uncertain, we can
remain certain that people who want to improve Saudi Arabia like some scholars and
politicians are doing what they can to help liberate the women of Saudi Arabia. I believe,
without a shadow of a doubt, that within our lifetimes, we will witness the revolution for
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the equal treatment of women in Saudi Arabia come and the fundamentalist mistreatment
of the women in Saudi Arabia will end forever
Part I: Overview for Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia:
A- Background of women in Saudi Arabia:
Because the background of the women in Saudi Arabia so heavily influences
women’s rights, it is impossible to have a conversation about this subject without
becoming familiar with women in Saudi Arabia. In different words, it is most important
for if we want to discuss any issues related to women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, we have to
understand the reality of Saudi women.1 In last fifty years, women in Saudi Arabia were
like second-class citizens after men so that the issues of progressive movements for
women in Saudi Arabia were rarely discussed.2 However, the women of Saudi Arabia
today are living in a time where they are starting to feel stronger about their rights and are
beginning to voice their concern about those rights. The first decade of the 21st century
has proven to be a time when the traditional mindset of Saudi Arabian women is
beginning to change. While there are many variables that could account for this change,
technological advancements of communication via the internet and social media outlets
such as Facebook and Twitter are giving these women the opportunity to voice their
concerns to a worldwide audience while remaining anonymous. However, there is no
huge advances in the areas of mobility via vehicles and ease travel. As a result, while
little progress is being made in the political rights and the employment rights, there are
still quite a few fundamental barriers that must first be overcome to improve not only
women's rights but also the whole system of justice.
1 WOMAN IN SAUDI ARABIA (CROSS CULTURAL VIEW) 152 (2008).
http://www.ghainaa.net/ar/Portals/0/saudi%20woman%20english.pdf
2 Asmaa Almohamed, Saudi Women’s Rights Stuck at Red Light. Arab Insight (2008). Retrieved
(Oct. 13, 2013, 9: 15 PM), www.arabinsight.com.
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Currently, Saudi Arabian regulations still limit a woman’s ability to be in a
parallel position in relation to men. For example, the employment structure in Saudi
Arabia serves is a perfect example of this because there is probably only 15% of the
Saudi Arabian workforce is composed of females. 3 The laws of Saudi Arabia work under
the premise of traditional ‘Sharia Law’, which is based to some degree off of the
foundations of the Islamic religion.4 King Abdullah, the current king of Saudi Arabia,
over the past few years has been passing some laws specifically the right to vote and run
for office in the next election in 2015, albeit reservedly, to help bring about some level of
equality to the women of the country. 5 Thus, the women in Saudi Arabia live between
many obstacles and ambitions. 6 Obviously, the women in Saudi Arabia lived in the past
based on gender inequality. The tribes in Saudi Arabia are generally more conservative
and are centered with traditional values that are aligned with Sharia Law. In this sense,
these tribal groups are do not want to see women become equal to men. However,
women in Saudi Arabia, even though some regulations still limit a woman’s ability, still
actively participate in developing the Kingdom and they have important jobs in their
families and outside of their families.7 As a result, the next part will be spent examining
a woman's rights in Saudi Arabia and some laws that may affect Saudi women and will
cite specific cases and events that pertain to the laws specifically. The outcomes will be
3 Christoph Wilcke, Workplace battle continues for Saudi women , CNN (Aug. 22, 2012, 11:16
AM) Retrieved (Oct. 13, 2013, 11: 15 PM),
http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/22/workplace-battle-continues-for-saudi-
women/
4 Stephanie Ott, Human rights campaigners welcome Saudi Arabia's law on domestic violence,
CNN (Sep. 2, 2013, 12:38 PM), http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/02/world/meast/saudi-arabia-
domestic-violence/index.html.
Shari'a is an Arabic word meaning “path” or “way.” Today the term is used most commonly to
mean “Islamic law,” the detailed system of religious law developed by Muslim scholars in the
first three centuries of Islam and still in force among fundamentalists today. Shari'a tries to
describe in detail all possible human acts, dividing them into permitted (halal) and prohibited
(haram).” What Is Shari’a, the Barnabas Fund, ( January- February. 2007) (Last seen November.
20, 2013, 5:34 PM) http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=774
5 P.K. Abdul ghafour, King Abdullah: Driving force behind progress, prosperity, Arab News(Sep.
23, 2013, 12:33 PM), http://www.arabnews.com/news/465558.
6 Supra note 1.
7 Shakir Ahamed Alsaleh, Gender Inequality in Saudi Arabia :Myth and Reality, Department of
Health Informatics, School of Public Health & Health Informatics King Saud bin Abdulaziz
University for Health Sciences Riyadh, Saudi Arabia ( Oct. 13, 2013, 10: 54 PM),
http://www.ipedr.com/vol39/025-ICITE2012-K00003.pdf
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presented to give a framework for the conditions that Saudi Arabian women currently live
in.
B- Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia:
The issue of women’s rights is one of the most hotly debated in Saudi Arabia in
recent years. Therefore, one of the biggest problems about the topic of women's rights is
that this issue includes many interpretations from the scholars of religion in Saudi Arabia
based on what they like. In addition, the topic of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia includes
many opinions from the scholars of west. Even though there are many scholars who talk
about the importance of women in the society of Saudi Arabia, there are many challenges
facing women in Saudi Arabia like their political rights and the disenfranchisement that
women face. Based on Article 8 of the constitution of Saudi Arabia requires the
government’s action be premised on justice and equality in accordance with Islamic law. 8
However, there are some people who see that Islamic law does not presume inequality
between men and women. 9 In fact, the inequality between men and the women has been
built from the Saudi government and the social structure. 10
There are many rules and regulations in the laws of Saudi Arabia that affect the
rights of Saudi women as well as some male guardianship laws. Hence, we will mention
some important cases and examples that happened in Saudi Arabia and the purpose of
these cases and events are designed to purely enlighten the reader to the laws; they are
also designed to see the issue of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia today and how they can
be violated and influenced. First of all, the basic law of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia
is based on Islamic law, which is derived from the holy book (the Quran), and the words
and the actions of the prophet Mohammed (the Saunah).11 However, it should be noted
that some of those that are considered ‘laws’ in Saudi Arabia are not necessarily laws,
rather customs and procedures that are considered laws by many of the people, especially
men in Saudi Arabia. For example, there is no specific law that mentions for what kind of
8The Constitution of Saudi Arabia, adopted by Royal decree of King Fahad, March. 1, 1992,
art.8. (The constitution of Saudi Arabia sometimes called the basic law of governance- Saudi
Arabia.)
9 Eleanor Abdella Doumato, Saudi Arabia, in WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
AND NORTH AFRICA 2010, 1 (Freedom House, 2010).
10 Id.
11 Majid Aldraehim, Sylvia L. Edwards, Jason Watson & Taizan Chan, Effects of Saudi Culture
on E-Services, IJI. V. 5, Iss. 3/4, 656 (September/December 2012).
6
Hijab women should wear in the street, but the customs of Saudi people see that the
meaning of the Hijab is to cover each part of woman’s body.
Moreover, one of the biggest problems in Saudi Arabia is that the line between
what is legal and customary is extremely ambiguous. This unseen boundary exists
because of the monarchial government structure of Saudi Arabia. As King Abdullah is
the king of the country, his word is law and is to be obeyed by the citizens and that it is
recognized through custom. The problem is that the line between customary action and
actual law is very grey. Sharia Law dictates traditional customs, which have been
interpreted as law because of the amount of time that has passed and how long these
customs have been upheld. Consequently, I will go into thorough detail about some laws
that are in effect that have an overall impact on the lives of women and their rights. For
instance, the ramifications of male guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia are tremendous, as
they seem to impact a very large portion of the lives of Saudi Arabian women and their
rights. According to report by a nongovernmental organization “Saudi women must often
obtain permission from a guardian (a father, a husband, or even a son) to work, travel,
study, marry, or even access health care.” 12 This means the women must have a male
guardian for a long list of things other people may doing alone. 13 However, it is not
meant as if women do not have any privacy as many people, especially men think in
Saudi Arabia.
Therefore, there are many unfortunate classic examples of the types of conditions
that some women in Saudi Arabia deal with as a result of the male guardianship law,
which is protected by the Islamic law. For example, Samia (her name was held in secret
so as to protect her identity) is a female citizen of Saudi Arabia and is an unfortunate
example of the effect of the guardianship law can have on the women of the country. 14
Samia’s life started off under strict control from her father and after years of persuasive
measures, met by the incentive of monetary gain, she had convinced her family to allow
12 Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia: Male Guardianship Policies Harm Women: Sex Segregation
Keeps Women Out of Public Life (April. 21, 2008), http://www.hrw.org/news/2008/04/20/saudi-
arabia-male-guardianship-policies-harm-women
13 Id.
14 Dave Lee, Saudi Arabian woman challenges male guardianship laws, BBC World Service (June. 29, 2011)
Retrieved ( Oct. 23, 2013, 10:01 PM) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13932287
7
her to go to medical school as a surgeon. 15 As time progressed, her hard work was aimed
at ultimately having her own family and meeting a man whom she chose to marry. 16
Also, her father kept denying suitor requests and decided to arrange a marriage with her
cousin.17 Upon this decision, Samia took her father to court and the court ruled in favor
of her as it was based on Sharia Law. 18 Based on Sharia Law, the Prophet Mohamed
(blessings and peace be upon him) stated that “A woman previously-married has more
entitlement to herself than her guardian, and the virgin should be asked for permission
(concerning her marriage) Almam Muslim.” 19 After the hearing, Samia was taken home
and was exposed to what could only be referred to as torture, while her father faced no
repercussion whatsoever as he was the male guardian. 20 After that, an anonymous
human rights activist wing that exists in hiding in Saudi Arabia saved Samia, and she is
currently in hiding from her family. 21
In addition, laws that surround marriage in Saudi Arabia is most definitely based
around Sharia Law. While the laws are designed around both male and female genders,
the law surely has a steeper bias against women. There is no protection for the girl child
in the law because there is no minimum age as a result more Saudi girls get married
between 14 to 18 years old. 22 The laws and potential for reform are, as most laws related
to marriage, in a state of limbo. 23 What I mean to say is that there is a great divide in the
country and King Abdullah, while aligned with progressiveness, still must maintain some
sense of balance in the country. In this sense, his desire to change laws is happening
slowly. Moreover, the laws regulating driving as well affect the women’s rights in Saudi
Arabia. The law of driving is ambiguous because women are technically allowed to
15 Id.
16 Id.
17 Id.
18 Id.
19 Shaad Ahmed, Hadths: The Marriage Process in Islam, Qibla Retrieved (Dec. 9, 2013, 8:18
PM), http://spa.qibla.com/issue_view.asp?HD=12&ID=565&CATE=10
20 Lee, supra note 15.
21 Lee, supra note 15.
22 Fahad Faruqui, Saudi Arabia Cruel Marriage Laws: Saudi women who wish to marry non-
Saudi Muslims face social prejudice and official discrimination, THE GUARDAIN (April. 3,
2010) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/apr/03/saudi-arabia-marriage-laws
23 Mike Krumboltz, Women defies driving ban in Saudi Arabia ; gets support from fellow
drivers, YAHOO NEWS (Oct. 9, 2013, 4: 25 PM) http://news.yahoo.com/woman-defies-driving-
ban-in-riyadh-202530904.html.
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legally drive, but they are not allowed to obtain the driver’s license. 24 As a result, on one
hand if they were pulled over for driving without the license, then the charge would be
related to the failure to have a license and not the act of driving itself. 25 However, this
rule does not apply to international driver’s licenses, although women are still frowned
upon by the conservative sect of Saudi Arabia. 26
On the other hand, in recent days, the government of Saudi Arabia has been
making a lot of efforts to protect women from domestic violence through the National
Family Safety program. Through the help of the National Family Safety Program in
Saudi Arabia, women are given proper medical and psychological care and more violent
men are being detained in an effort to denounce this type of behavior towards women.
In addition, the government of Saudi Arabia wants to increase the participation of the
women in civil society and to support any kind of organization that support the women’s
rights. 27 In last ten years, the government of Saudi Arabia especially the Suhra Council
supports the Saudi Human Rights Committee in the social media and provides for them
annual budget. Eventually, as a result of this discussion of the laws and the judicial cases
that relate to the women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, we can see clearly that the women in
Saudi Arabia and their rights live between strong traditional tribes and ambiguous laws.
What this means is that the women of the country live in an environment where they are
expected to live strictly to the customary traditions of the tribal sector of Saudi Arabia
with a specific emphasis on what outlined under Sharia law. Hence, it is crucially
necessary in the next part to discuss the sources that affect the issue of women’s rights in
Saudi Arabia.
C- The sources that affect the women’s rights in political life and employment in
Saudi Arabia:
Saudi culture is the total of beliefs, customs, and behaviors based on the values of
Islam and it affects every part of life; including the impact it has on the human rights.
The system or law in Saudi Arabia is based on two major subsystems: (1) the Islamic
religion, which is the religion for the majority of Saudi citizens and the most important
24 Id.
25 Id.
26 Id.
27 Almohamed, supra note 2.
9
influence, (2) traditional tribal custom. 28 Each of these two elements is extremely
important when we discuss the issue of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
i: Islam:
In examining the location of Saudi Arabia, it is apparent that Saudi Arabia is
home to the two most important holy mosques for Muslims; these are Makkah and Al-
Medina, causing Saudi Arabia to have one of the most important positions in the Islamic
world from Morocco to India.29 The law in Saudi Arabia is heavily derived from Islam.
Islam is a religion that consists of a set of traditions, behaviors, beliefs, and social
doctrines that affect each part of the life of a Muslim.30
The sources of the Islam, and therefore the law, are the Islamic holy book (the
Quran) and the words and the actions of the Prophet Mohammed (the Sunnah).31
Through these two sources, Islam has explained and interpreted the moral rules and
behaviors and the law has been derived from this source as well as the rights of the
women in any areas. The foundation through which feminine equality will perpetuate
throughout the Middle East reflecting back to the morality of Islam which points of view
are based around fundamentalism, conservatism, and traditional belief structures. As a
result, the values of Islam have become in Saudi Arabia less a religion and more a way of
life, permeating into every aspect of the Saudi life and culture to a point that it is often
impossible to see where one ends and the other begins.
ii: Traditional Tribal:
Another important aspect that affects the form of Saudi’s culture and the law and
the women’s rights is the tradition tribal system which focuses on the traditions in society
that are not in either of the religious sources from Islam but that have been developed and
handed down from one generation to generation.32 One of the most common customs in
the tribal system is the classification between individuals of society and the fact that the
society is often very closed minded about matters, even when not prohibited by Islam and
28 Aldraehim, supra note 12.
29 John Voll, Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion, ed. Robert Wuthnow, WASHINGTON, D.C.:
CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY, INC. 383-393 (1998).
30 Lester R. Kurtz, Gods in the Global Village : The World’s Religion in Sociological
Perspective, 106 (1995).
31 Aldraehim, supra note 12.
32 Aldraehim, supra note 12.
10
may be very reluctant to change the way they have always done something.33 This results
in a type of tradition, which is not written anywhere but is passed down by custom.
One example of this tradition relates to women driving vehicles. When we make
a quick overview of national regulation of Saudi Arabia, we cannot find any rule or
regulation that prohibits the women form driving the car. However, even though Islam
does not prohibit women from driving, the tribal system does not like that; so then it
becomes law that prohibiting women from obtaining a Saudi Arabia driver’s license in
the nation of Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, some of these long-time traditions, like
women in the workforce and the ability for women to gain higher education, are changing
to some extent and new traditions have developed through influence and example from
the outside world especially from the west. This conflict between the west and the
traditional tribes of Saudi Arabia has greatly affected the justice style in Saudi Arabia so
that the idea of women's rights changed a little bit in Saudi Arabia.34 The idea of
women’s rights changed little bit in the employment of women and the political life
because many judges, whose job it is to interpret Sharia Law do so under the guise of
traditional thinking because of this progressive reformation has been an extremely slow
process.
Furthermore, one of the most important common customs that affects laws and
women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and making them different from any other place in the
world is the structure of the family and relatives and the huge importance Saudi Arabia
places on family as a social institution.35 The family is considered in many parts of Islam
both by the Qur’an and the Sunnah, as the primary basis of identity.36 In addition, the
Qur’an and the Sunnah mention many rules about the importance of family.37 The
Prophet Mohammed stated that:
"All of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and the things under
your care. The Imam (i.e. ruler) is the guardian of his subjects and is responsible
for them and a man is the guardian of his family and is responsible for them. A
33 Aldraehim, supra note 12.
34 Aldraehim, supra note 12.
35 Library of Congress Country Study on Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia Cultural Homogeneity and
Values, (December 1992) Retrieved (Oct. 24, 2013, 10:07AM)
http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/loc/sa/values.htm.
36 Aldraehim, supra note 12.
37 Aldraehim, supra note 12.
11
woman is the guardian of her husband's house and is responsible for it. A servant
is the guardian of his master's belongings and is responsible for them.' I thought
that he also said, 'A man is the guardian of his father's property and is responsible
for it. All of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and the things
under your care." 38
Furthermore, the Qur’an mentions that individuals should maintain good relationships
with their relatives and that the family is the most important unit of society.39 The Qur’an
stated that:
“And Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him. And (show) fairest
(companionship) to parents, and to the near kinsman, and the orphans and the
indigent, and the neighbor who is near kinsman, and the neighbor who is stranger,
( i.e. not of the family or creed or “nationality”) and the companion at your side,
and the wayfarer, and what your right hands posses. Surely Allah does not love
whoever has been conceited (and) constantly boastful,”40
Thus, the Islam is similar to other world religions in that the family is the most important
unit of society, but women in Islam are expected to maintain the role originally identified
as the ‘matriarchal family’ or obedience to the male figure in the family. Additionally, the
culture of Saudi Arabia has been taught outside of the Quran and other religious teachings
to respect your elder (older generations) and to rely on your family.
Also, this structure of the family affects the rights of women’s generally in
different ways, for example if a woman wants to talk on the television about anything,
many families in Saudi Arabia especially in the middle of Saudi Arabia does not allow
that because they think that it brings shame to the family. This decision is not taking into
consideration the rules of Islam, but it was based on the tradition structure of the family
and what the people say because many families still think that if any one sees their
daughter or mom it will be shame as it was before fifty years. The tradition is determined
the roles of each member in the family. In this case, it is reasoned that her actions affected
the family even though it is allowed in the rule of Islam for women to talk. In this way,
the severity of prohibition for the rights of women in Saudi Arabia is affected by the
family structure more than that of other sources.
38 Al Bukhary, Volume 2, Book 13, Number 18.
39 Aldraehim, supra note 12.
40 Al Nisa 4: 36
12
Part II: The Main Issues of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia:
Now, that we have a bit of background about the women in Saudi Arabia (as it is
important to discuss in this part), women’s rights in the political environment and the
employment and mobility will be mentioned and the provisions and the rules stated in the
constitution of Saudi Arabia will be dissected. This information will allow for an accurate
determination if Saudi Arabia violated women’s right or not.
In the first place, Women in Saudi Arabia are not given the opportunities for
employment that the men of the country are. While within the past few decades there
have been progressive movements to allow for extended rights to women, the fact
remains that they are still not considered as equals and have limited employment
opportunity. For example, Saudi women can work in the education, in the higher
education ministry, but women cannot be judge, parliamentarians, work in restaurant, or
work in the military. This limited opportunity goes even further especially when it comes
to the political environment, and one of these limitation women in Saudi Arabia cannot
vote. There are many examples of the violations of human rights with women in Saudi
Arabia including domestic violence and rape by men that goes unpunished, the inability
to gain employment equal to men, having to have a male guardian, and the limitations
associated with the inability to obtain higher education, although I choose to focus on
their inability to gain certain employment and their in-admittance into several facets of
the political environment. I choose to focus on these topics as they are of a personal
nature to me and will have an eventual impact on the nature of Saudi Arabian society. It is
important to me because of the profession I will go into when I return to Saudi Arabia. I
want to see the liberation of women into a previously male-dominated society. Being that
Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a progressive revolution for that of women’s rights’ in the
country, I feel that by analyzing these two facets of the culture will present a dynamic
point of view and further understanding the nature of this movement will also help
establish more equality within the state.
A- Women’s rights in political life:
13
In the beginning, we have to understand that King Abdullah is the king of Saudi
Arabia; given that its government is a monarchy, his word is law and is to be obeyed by
the citizens of Saudi Arabia and that was simply recognized through custom and tradition.
The government has given the power to make a decision to a council of top religious
leaders. 41 The religious leaders called in Saudi Arabia the ulema, and "these religious
leaders recommend rules based on their interpretations of Islamic Shari’a law." 42The law
until September of 2011, stated that only men thirty years of age and older were allowed
to participate in the Consultative Assembly, but the women were prohibited from
participation. 43 In September of 2011, King Abdullah changed the law allowing up to
thirty women to be active participants within the Consultative Assembly because many
Saudi citizens talked about the violations for women rights in Saudi Arabia. 44 However,
when we look to progressive steps form King Abdullah towards creating more equality
for women in Saudi Arabia, we can see that King Abdullah is a progressive thinker and is
far more liberal in his action than that of some of his predecessors.
Moreover, if we want to understand the violation for the women’s rights in the
political nature of Saudi Arabia, we must make simple comparisons between Saudi
Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council. The Gulf Cooperation Council is composed of
Middle Eastern countries and Saudi Arabia is part of this council. Asmaa Al-Mohamed
which is a Journalist and Women’s Rights Activist in Saudi Arabia states, “…women in
the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries enjoy more robust political and civil
rights. In Bahrain, for instance, women have served in parliament and as ministers,
whereas Saudi women still need a mahram (a close male relative such as a father, son, or
uncle) to accompany them even to the supermarket.” 45 This brief quote illustrates the
massive gap that exists between the equality of men and women of Saudi Arabia as well
41 Will Changes in Saudi Arabia Increase Women’s Rights, PBS NWESHOUR,(Nov. 1, 2011)
Retrieved (Dec. 8. 2013,10:10 PM) http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/world/july-
dec11/saudi2_11-01.html
42 Id.
43 Shura Council Law, March. 5, 1992, art. 4.
http://www.shura.gov.sa/wps/wcm/connect/ShuraEn/internet/Laws+and+Regulations/The+Shura
+Council+and+the+rules+and+regulations+job/Shura+Council+Law/
44 Shura shake-up: Saudi women allowed on Consultative Council, Reuters, (January. 11, 2013,
19:40) http://rt.com/news/saudi-women-council-king-807/
45 Almohamed, supra note 2.
14
as the other Middle Eastern countries. In addition, when we compare the Saudi women to
other Middle Eastern states, we see women in the political arena as not having the
capability of being more than an advisor and they cannot vote or participate in the
political life. For example, in the first election that happened in municipal council in
February of 2005, the women were prohibited from voting. However, they are currently
now allowed the ability to vote after September of 2011. 46 For instance, “The six women
who serve as parliamentary advisors, the only political position women have attained in
Saudi Arabia, seem to be there less in a serious capacity and more as décor.” 47 The
meaning of the decor is that six women only stay in the Shura Council, and they don't
have any authority to create laws or talk about their rights all the times so that they seem
decor in the Shura Council because the décor does not talk.
Consequently, there is a narrow depth to which Saudi Arabian women are allowed
to actively engage in politics in the country and many scholars of religion in Saudi Arabia
see the fundamental relevance that Saudi women have in parliament as advisors.
However, there is a “small group of hardliners expressed skepticism about the merits of
appointing women to the council and claimed that religion did not condone allowing
women to take up high positions.” 48In fact, this claim is not correct because there is
nothing in the Islam prohibit the women to become members of a parliament or the Suhra
Council in Saudi Arabia like men.
It is clear that political disparity exists for the women of Saudi Arabia. The king
of Saudi Arabia as we stated before granted 30 seats for women in the Shura Council,
which has 150 members.49 However, the function of the Shura Council is to “review laws
and questions ministers, but does not have legislative powers.” 50 Thus, it is apparent that
King Abdullah is taking small, yet progressive steps towards creating more equality for
women in Saudi Arabia although the fact of the matter remains that the role of women is
still limited to that of advisory purposes with no real political foothold in the male-
46 Almohamed, supra note 2.
47 Almohamed, supra note 2.
48 Saudi Scholars Supports Role for Women in Shura Council, HABIBTOUMI, Retrieved (Dec.
1, 2013, 3:01 PM) http://www.habibtoumi.com/?p=9981&upm_export=print
49 Saudi women given the right to serve on top government advisory council, CBANEWS,
Retrieved (Jan. 11, 2013, 6: 21 PM) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57563603/
50 Id.
15
dominated arena that exists in that Saudi Arabia. Based within these confines, the women
in the Shura Council have only as much influence as the men who they advise choose to
accept.
On the other hand, Along with the introduction of the feminine voice into the
Saudi political arena, came the admission of three women who are now chairpersons of
committees in the parliamentary government. 51 Thurayya Obeid, Zainab Abu Talib, and
Lubna Al Ansari all became the first women to hold office in this monarchy. 52 Thurayya
Obeid became the deputy chairperson of the Human Rights and Petitions Committee.
53Zainab Abu Talib became the deputy chairwoman of the Information and Cultural
Committee. 54 Lubna Al Ansari became the deputy chairwoman of the Health Affairs and
Environment Committee. 55 These women were allowed to be placed in these positions
due to King Abdullah’s reformation to the existing law.
Moreover, in King Abdullah’s progressive movement to improve the women's
rights, there are examples of his desire to see women more active in the political arena in
Saudi Arabia. One example of this as reported by Al-Mohamed, is the increase in the
number of women allowed to go on excursions to other countries as diplomats or
representatives of Saudi Arabia. There is no specific number for how many women who
benefits form that but I think the number of women who worked as diplomats or
representatives of Saudi Arabia increased form last ten years until today. For example,
when I looked to the employees in the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission in the United
States for example, I found that the number of women is more than last ten years. Hence,
“… Saudi women, thanks to King Abdullah, have been given ‘a strong push for
participation, and we have noticed a number of women and female ministerial
representatives joining the king on his foreign tours.” 56 This statement here is evidence
of the fact that King Abdullah has a desire for a more active female part in the political
environment, but in fact, the king got many conflict with the scholars of religion which
51 Faris Al-Qahtani, Women on 3 Shoura panels, OKAZ- SAUDI GAZETTE, February 25, 2013.
http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=2013022554468
52 Id.
53 Id.
54 Id.
55 Id.
56 Almohamed, supra note 2.
16
have a strong voice in the society especially before ten years from now. The scholars of
religion argue strongly that the Islam provides the equality between men and women so
that there is no violation and women have their rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
However, in fact, they don’t understand a woman’s right very well because there is any
woman member in the council of top religious leaders.
Part of the reason there is not a particularly high amount of feminine activity in
parliamentary matters also lies outside of the scope of what they are allowed and not
allowed to do. There are very few Saudi women major in political science. 57 In addition,
one of the problems that facing the women in Saudi Arabia is that the political science as
a major was an area that has been closed off to women for. Also, if the women have the
desire for them to pursue any form of academic establishment related to politics, it will be
not void. Therefore, the women want to study the political science so that Nora Alyousif
said “By restructuring some of the universities and providing the major [to women], we
are establishing the beginning of a new era in which young women study politics
academically before applying it on the ground.” 58
Furthermore, while some women enjoy the ability to participate in politics, they
still have little voice in relation to the men of the country. For instance, “Princess Dr. al-
Jawhara bint Fahd al-Saud was undersecretary of education for women’s colleges for 10
years before becoming president of Riyadh University for Women in April 2007 and yet.”
59 she told many women in n a conference on women’s rights that " even though her
position in the ministry of Education is the third highest ranking in the Ministry of
Education, she did not have the necessary powers to make decisions.” 60 This quote here
is indicative of the false sense of title that women actually had as of the date this article
was written.
All in all, the political arena that Saudi Arabian women are allowed to participate
in is very limited in relation to other countries in the Middle East. For example, when we
look to Sudan where women can vote, we see that there are 35 seats for women in the
house of parliament out of 360 seats in direct election in 2000, which is 9.7 percentages
57 Almohamed, supra note 2.
58 Almohamed, supra note 2.
59 Almohamed, supra note 2.
60 AlHayat, The speech of Dr Al-Jawhar bint Fahad al-Saud, November 30, 2006. Retrieved
(Oct.22, 2013, 10:10 PM)
17
of the total members of the house of parliament. 61 Also, while progressive reformation is
underway due to the liberal thinking of King Abdullah, there is still a lot of ground that
must be covered in order to bring about a higher standard of equality for Saudi Arabian
women in the society. In the preceding paragraphs, we have seen many examples and
outlined the roles that Saudi women are allowed to participate in under Saudi law, but we
have also seen how these roles are somewhat indifferent as the actual voice of the women
in office is often undermined by that of their male counterparts. The women participate in
the political life is undermined based in part to the customary nature of the traditional
sects of Saudi Arabia.
B- Women’s Rights in Employment and Mobility:
While the political life of Saudi women is lacking to a high degree, these women
are also burdened with the plight of a sexist employment environment as well. Due to the
restrictions placed on the women in this country with regards to having to have a male
guardian, transportation limitations, and employment regulations, there is little
opportunity for Saudi Arabian women to prosper in the workplace. 62 Because of the laws
surrounding women in the workforce, it is estimated that approximately 15% of the Saudi
Arabian workforce is composed of females. 63 This number is on the rise, but slowly, and
the fact of the matter is that Saudi Arabian women are an under-utilized portion of the
Saudi workforce.
The conservative role of women in Saudi Arabia is synonymous with that of the
homemaker and child-bearer. 64 These women are expected to tend to household chores,
take care of the children, and vehemently obey their husbands and/or male guardians.
65Their ability to work is contingent upon this and if they are allowed to work, then they
must not let it affect the traditional matriarchal duties as in doing so they will forfeit their
privilege to work. 66 Based on article 8 of the constitution of Saudi Arabia requires the
61 Pippa Norris, Women’s representation in The Middle East Evaluating Positive Action
Strategies, Harvard University JOHN F. Kenneals School of Government ( November. 23, 2013,
8:28 PM) http://www.hks.harvard.edu/fs/pnorris/Acrobat/Research%20project%20for%20the
%20Middle%20East%20Initiative.pdf
62 Doumento, supra note 10 at 1.
63 Wilcke, supra note 3.
64Almohamed, supra note 2.
65 Almohamed, supra note 2.
66 Almohamed, supra note 2.
18
government’s action be premised on justice and equality in accordance with Islamic law.
67 The unfortunate aspect of this is that Islamic law does not recognize women as equals;
so that there are many scholars of the religion say there is no violation of Sharia law.
However, it is not clearly true and we can argue that there is no specific law or regulation
in Islamic law that says women should have to say in her house all the time as they like.
Thus, in my opinion, the interpretation of Islam as understood by Saudi religious
scholars and promoted in Saudi Arabia does recognize women as equal to men. In
addition, it is true there is a limitation for the rights of the women in employment but it is
not like what the scholars of religion say. Conservative religious scholars say that they
must obey traditional Sharia law. Moreover, if we assume that there is no violation for
the Islamic law, but there is a clear violation of human rights put forth by the United
Nations specifically the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) based on gender equality. 68 In 2000, “Saudi
Arabia ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW), with reservations stating that the kingdom is under no
obligation to observe terms of the treaty that contradict Islamic law.” 69 Consequently,
Based on the argument of the women rights in the movement and employment had a clear
violation of the human rights norms in three areas which are i) the need for a male
guardian, ii) limited access to mobility and transportation, and iii) employment and
political participation restrictions under Sharia law.
i: The need for a male guardian:
The first area is the need for a male guardian. Women are allowed to hold certain
jobs if their male guardian allows it. 70 When we look to the nation of Saudi Arabia, we
see that the impact that a male guardian has over a Saudi Arabian woman and her ability
to work. Hence, The role of the male guardian for women in Saudi Arabia leaves little
room for personal growth in the workforce because the ability for a man to immediately
prohibit feminine employment is true allowed under the Islamic law, but it is not allowed
67 The Constitution of Saudi Arabia, adopted by Royal decree of King Fahad, March. 1, 1992,
art.8.
68 Doumento, supra note 10 at 6.
69 Doumento, supra note 10 at 6.
70 Doumento, supra note 10 at 2.
19
to be like slavery for the women as this happened in many cases like the example of
Samia case. 71
ii) Limited access to mobility and transportation:
The second aspect of this, which severely affects the ability for women to work in
Saudi Arabia, is access to mobility for women. The inability to get to and from a job
severely inhibits women from reaching out into the job market. According to Eleanor
Abdella Doumato, “Women’s lack of mobility remains a salient point of contention in the
kingdom, as they still are not allowed to drive a car. They are not allowed to travel
abroad by airplane without the express permission of a male guardian, and their right to
travel internally without a guardian’s permission is subject to the arbitrary approval of
airport personnel.” 72 In addition, “Freedom of movement for women in Saudi Arabia is
limited by overlapping legal constraints and social controls, and as a result women may
not drive cars, travel on airplanes, work, or be outside their own home without a
guardian’s permission.” 73 These restrictions close off the already limited options that
women have in the country. The pursuit of a career or dream outside of the scope of ‘the
housewife’ is hindered by the need for a guardian and his decision as to whether or not to
allow her to go outside let alone work! The restrictions set forth with regards to mobility
and travel also hinder the potential for job options and opportunities that would be
present if women were given equal chance at employment.
iii) Employment and political restrictions under Sharia law:
The third area to be discussed recognizes the actual laws that prevent women
from obtaining jobs. Within the past few years, there has been a lot of reform for Saudi
Arabian women, but it still stands that there restrictions outweigh their opportunities. As
reported by Christoph Wilcke of CNN,
Meanwhile, another battle over women’s rights has attracted little outside
attention: The push to get women into the workforce, which religious
conservatives are fiercely resisting. With four new Labor Ministry decrees in July,
71 It is most important to understand that in recent years the male guardianship law became kind
of slavery which is prohibited by the Islamic law to be like slavery. In my personal view, in the
last year this action decreased in Saudi Arabia because the people begin to think about the effects
of this action in the structure of the family.
72 Doumento, supra note 10 at 2.
73 Doumento, supra note 10 at 7.
20
the number of jobs open to women has slowly increased, at least in theory.
However, these decrees also gave conservatives a victory by reaffirming that strict
sex segregation, loosened in 2005, applies to the workplace.” 74
The statement underscores the scope of Sharia law mentioned in the words ‘sex
segregation’. However, the scholar of religion in Saudi Arabia choose this phrase so
much, but the sex segregation is not mean everything should be separate as the scholars
think. I agree the idea of ' sex segregation' is good in some situations, but it is not all
because we are living in days where the women and the men should work together to
improve their life and the country. The idea of sex segregation in Saudi Arabia is divided
into two parts, which are mandatory segregation and administrative segregation. 75
Mandatory segregation includes the separation between men and women in military
services, restroom, and prisons. 76 However, the administrative segregation includes the
separation between men and women in the sport, public hospital, and the education.
Except these two parts of sex segregation will be permissive or voluntary. 77
One of the problems that persist with regards to feminine employment is the
political leaders who, while acting under the guise of progressiveness, still follows
traditional law and seem to go back-and-forth with regards to policies surrounding the
laws. However, there are many political leaders in Saudi Arabia who work to improve
the women’s rights in the employment like in particular is Minister Dr. Ghazi Al-Qusaibi,
the Minister of the Saudi Labor Ministry. Dr. Ghazi Al- Qusaibi tried to solve the
problem of the women in Saudi Arabia like the huge unemployment rate for the women
and he created many sectors for Saudi women to work. 78 These sectors include the
foreign affairs ministry, banks, oil companies, ministry of the interior, and the education.
As a result of this discussion, we can see that the opportunity for employment in
the workplace for women is contingent upon the factors set forth by the men of Saudi
74 Wilcke, supra note 3.
75 David S. Choen, The Stubborn Persistence of Sex Segregation, DREXEL UNIVERSITY
EARLE MACK SCHOOL OF LAW, Columbia a Journal of Gender and Law, (Nov. 23, 2013,
9:01 PM).
76 Id.
77 Id.
78 Saudiwoman’s Weblog, Prominent Saudis: Dr: Ghazi Al Qosaibi , Saudiweman’s Weblog,
(May. 1, 2008, 12:37 PM)
(Saudiwoman’s Weblog is a website that gives a voice to the women of Saudi Arabia. Thus, there
are many facts that related to the women’s rights in Saudi Arabia in this website.)
21
Arabia. The requirement of a male guardian, the inability to access to desired
transportation, and the laws and politicians that are encompassed within this framework
are all detriments towards women accessing employment. The conservative view is that
women must hold the traditional role and is allowed to work if and only if her husband is
ok with it and the female still upholds her matriarchal duties. However, the husband
cannot access his wife money if she refused, but many women in this situation like this
many women give up claims to maintenance. In retrospect, these conditions must change
if there is ever to be any true progression in Saudi Arabia. While on the world-stage, the
conditions that determine work eligibility clearly violate human rights, and the strong
conditions like the prisoner for the women under Sharia law because woman needs to get
the permission all times to get out of her house are clear violation even though the
Islamic law does make equality between the man and the woman. King Abdullah’s
position is centered more towards feminine equality in the workforce, although gradual
steps must be taken in order for these conditions to come to fruition because of the
conservative position of a large number of Saudi Arabian men.
In short, the role of women in politics and the workforce in Saudi Arabia is one
that has been stagnant for a very long time. Only within the past few years have women
been able to achieve more and even though these allowances are occurring, there is still a
very long way to go. I personally would like to see women be as fully equal as men
within my lifetime. In the political arena, women are slowly being integrated into what
was once a male-dominated venture. With regards to the workforce, the same thing
applies. There is a slow, but steady increase in the rights of the employment and the
political life. However, all the times there is demoralizing traditional that comes with the
conservative mindset of some Saudi Arabian men.
Part III: The rights of the women in Saudi Arabia between today and the future:
22
The last decade has been a turbulent one in the nation of Saudi Arabia for men,
women, conservatives, and liberals alike. It has been turbulent because there is an ever-
growing part of the population that is determined to bring about change. This change is
aligned with Western progressive thinking. The progressive thinking of King Abdullah
has propelled the revolution that has occurred with regards to the rights of the women of
Saudi Arabia to change. As women are becoming more aware of the movement
associated with this sentiment and due largely in part to increased communication via
social media and the internet, women who want their voices to be heard can now do so in
an anonymous way without fear of violence towards them. Because of the combination
of these elements, the future of Sharia Law in the traditionally based Islamic country will
be changed forevermore.
A- General overview of foreign views for the women’s rights in Saudi Arabia:
Outside of Saudi Arabia, the majority of the rest of the world is positioned with
advancing the rights of women in the Saudi culture. Western scholars and western-
thinking culture is aimed at helping spur the advancement of women in the country. The
outside world sees there is an inhumane treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. Thus,
There is a huge support from first-world to give women in Saudi Arabia their rights and
more women in Saudi Arabia will feel the support from the outside world. In addition, the
feminist supporters are not the only ones who are prone to help eliminate these condition
but also the United Nations is going as far as to determine whether the humanitarian
rights of the women in Saudi Arabia are being broken. 79 According to Human Right
Watch, “New laws introduced or proposed in 2011 criminalize the exercise of basic
human rights such as freedom of expression, assembly, and association.” 80 King
Abdullah enacted laws for Minister of Culture and Media after the Arab Spring
movement in the Middle East for heavily censored print and broadcast media. That meant
these laws limited the freedom of expression for Saudi citizens. 81 This statement is clear
79 World Report 2012: Saudi Arabia events of 2011, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, Retrieved
(Nov. 25, 2013, 9:10 AM) http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-saudi-arabia
(Human Rights Watch goes into detail about much of the content covered within my research and
goes on to the determination that the unfair and unequal treatment of women in the country
clearly violates humanitarian law.)
80 Id.
81 Id.
23
evidence of the position held by Human Rights Watch. It is clearly evident that the
United States, Western Europe, and all cultures with a Western mentality are set on
helping liberate the women in the Middle Eastern state especially in Saudi Arabia.
B- The future of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia:
The future of the laws surrounding the rights of women is changing even as this is
being written. There are people in the Shura Council, activists in the state, and liberal
thinkers who are at work in the social media everyday to liberate women from some of
the more harsh laws that aim to keep women subservient to their male counterparts.
Today, the Saudi Women Revolution is helping promote these changes for the future and
how they are not satisfied with just menial rights being granted. 82 According to Jolie du
Pre, “If the conclusion is Saudi women are happy the way things are, that doesn't fly with
The Saudi Women Revolution. The Saudi Women Revolution is a group of women who
are focused on creating equality between men and women in Saudi Arabia. Sharia law
calls for the separation of women and men and allows for significant advantages to the
male population. The Saudi Women Revolution, with the Twitter hashtag
#SaudiWomenRevoltion, is determined to even the playing field.” 83This statement
clearly identifies that the women associated with the Saudi Women Revolution will not
be satisfied until women are looked at as wholly equal to men in Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, the future of right for women in Saudi Arabia is still uncertain at
political rights and employment, but signs point to a reformation of the male-dominated
society towards a more integrated one. Saudi Arabia as I mentioned before ratified the
(CEDAW) in 2000. 84 However, Saudi Arabia made a reservation stated In cases of
contradiction between any term of the Convention and the norms of Islamic law, the
Kingdom is not under obligation to observe the contradictory terms of the Convention.”
85 In my opinion, this is one step in the right direction although it is still held back by the
repressive fist of conservative culture. Following current trends of the liberal in Saudi
82 Jolie du Pre, Saudi women – What Does the future hold?, YAHOO NEWS, (Sep. 27, 2011,
7:20 PM) http://news.yahoo.com/saudi-women-does-future-hold-232000328.html
(Jolie du Pre in Saudi women – What Does the future hold? goes into brief detail about where the
future of the push for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is heading. Also, he outlines the absolute
absurdity of the male guardianship’ law.)
83 Id.
84 Doumento, supra note 10 at 6.
85 Doumento, supra note 9 at 6.
24
Arabia, the path to victory for women seem imminent. In addition, of the rights
mentioned, the few that stand out and are the most important to this group are: the ability
to vote, the ability to be considered equal when considered for political office and
employment, and the one that stands out as the most dominant in this group is the desire
to wholly eliminate the ‘male guardianship’ law. 86 Moreover, the biggest obstacle that the
Saudi Women Revolution will face in the future is the traditional behemoth that exists in
the country. Strong Islamic religious fundamentalism stands as a barrier against any
immediate chance for reform. However, King Abdullah will ultimately determine the
future of the women of Saudi Arabia in the next election for the Shura Council, which
will take place in Saudi Arabia; this is schedule to happen in 2015. 87
Part IV: Conclusion:
In conclusion, the rights of women in Saudi Arabia are limited in respect to the
men of Saudi Arabia. From bans set against voting, driving, travelling, marriage, and so
forth, there is clear evidence that the women of Saudi Arabia are at best secondary to the
primary positions of men in Saudi Arabia. Through the specific case examples that we
discussed in the paper we see that women have been mistreated in Saudi Arabia. In
addition, Islam and tradition have influenced in the reformative movements associated
with the liberation of women in Saudi Arabia. Also, the council of top religious leaders
affects women’s rights in Saudi Arabia especially in the employment rights. However,
we considered King Abdullah, coming to the determination that he is trying to promote
the movement for women’s rights. On the other hand, he is doing so slowly based on the
traditional views of the Shura Council and the scholars of religion. Through the
discussion for the laws set against women, we can see that there is a specific cases and
laws are in fact violations of human rights; with a specific focus on the political life and
employment positions held and denied by the women of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, there is
a huge limitation for women’s rights in the employment and political life. Moreover, the
progressive movements that are occurring to do away with these ban to promote more
equal treatment in the political life and employment of women in Saudi Arabia.
86 Du Pre, supra note 83.
87 CNN Wire Staff, Question follow Saudi King’s promise on women’s rights, CNN, ( Sep. 26,
2011, 1:28 PM) Retrieved (Nov. 25, 2013, 2:39 PM)
http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/26/world/meast/saudi-women-politics/
25
Furthermore, the future of women’s rights will be better than today because the majority
of Saudi citizens wants women to be equal to men as we can see in the social media
today. Thus, through the cooperation between the king of Saudi Arabia and the nation of
Saudi Arabia in next decade and the help form the western scholars and western thinking
culture, we hope we can see women equal to men not only in the employment and
political life but also in all aspects.
Consequently, in my personal view, even though the future of women's rights in
Saudi Arabia is uncertain, we can remain certain that people who want to improve Saudi
Arabia like some scholars and politicians are doing what they can to help liberate the
women of Saudi Arabia. I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that within our lifetimes,
we will witness the revolution for the equal treatment of women in Saudi Arabia come
and the fundamentalist mistreatment of the women in Saudi Arabia will end forever.
26
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.