Saudi Arabian women are gaining legal rights at unprecedented speed, yet their stories are bittersweet. The nation recently announced women-only sports clubs will be allowed for the first time in history and that women will now be able to ride bicycles in parks. This is grand step forward, but each example vividly illustrates how far the nation’s equality laws have come and yet far the nation still has to go. To learn more about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, click below:
Time: From the outside, progress on women’s rights in the kingdom may appear to be mired in tar…But from the perspective of women inside the country, dizzying changes are afoot. For the first time, female athletes represented Saudi Arabia at the Olympics last year in London. An employment ban has been lifted for female cashiers at supermarkets, and women have taken the place of men in lingerie and cosmetic stores across the country… King Abdullah… has done more for women in his eight-year reign than any monarch since his brother, King Faisal, allowed girls to go to school in 1964.
Bloomberg: Saudi Arabian women are allowed to ride bicycles in public so long as they are still accompanied by a male guardian and wear “fully modest dress,” the al-Yaum newspaper reported on its website… The women should ride the bicycles or buggies on a beach or the outskirts of a city and only for recreation, not as a means of transportation, al-Yaum said.
India Times: Until now, women's exercise facilities, including gyms, have had to be licensed by the health ministry and designated as "health centers”… In 2009 a member of the country's highest council of clerics said girls should not play sports lest they "lose their virginity" by tearing their hymens… Watan said on Friday the interior ministry had decided to allow women's sports clubs after reviewing a study that showed flaws in the existing system.
The Independent: Princess Basma… is slightly bewildered by the focus on the continuing prohibition on Saudi women… from being allowed to drive. She said: "Why don't we actually fight for a woman's right even to complain about being beaten up. That is more important than driving. If a woman is beaten, they are told to go back to their homes – their fathers, husbands, brothers – to be beaten up again and locked up in the house. No law, no police will protect them.”