Saudi Shoura member wants to end male guardianship

Updated 14 December 2017
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Saudi Shoura member wants to end male guardianship

RIYADH: In light of the recent drive Saudi Arabia is undertaking to empower women, a member of the Shoura Council, Dr. Eqbal Darandari, who sits on the Human Rights Committee, spoke about the necessity of revoking the requirement of a guardian’s permission for Saudi women to travel.
The Shoura Council member strongly feels this is a step in the right direction as it tallies with the decree to allow women to drive. The two — in her opinion — are interminably connected.
Darandari believes it is the Shoura Council’s role to supervise and legislate, and as a member of that council she told Arab News: “It’s my pivotal duty to monitor human rights, whether it be for men or women, and to ensure that everyone is fairly entitled to their rights.”
Specialized in psychology, she faced many obstacles as an academic: “I was a member of the Strategic Planning Committee and I fought to instigate the first deanship position at King Saud University (KSU). I finally achieved that six years ago,” she told Arab News.
She admitted to speaking up for women specifically due to the complexities of their issues. “I am for justice, and there’s a lot of injustice against some women due to misconstrued traditions and practices, and limited religious outlooks, putting women in harm’s way as a result.
“I don’t think allowing women to travel will lead to an increase in the number of girls’ escape cases, which often occurs in broken homes lacking familial compatibility.”
She thinks it unreasonable to deal with this generation, which has great aspirations due to its openness to the world, in the same manner used to deal with older generations.
“Nowadays, adolescents believe they’re entitled to independence and trust, to lay claim to their rights. That, in turn, gives them great confidence in society and builds their sense of belonging, containing them rather than fueling their rebellion and disobedience.”
Dandarani added that she believes anyone who has reached adulthood, of either sex, is responsible enough for their actions. “A woman’s travel permit is unjust and is a discrimination between the two sexes.”
After studying traditional and modern scholars’ opinions within religious texts, Darandari brought up the debatable case of mahram (guardian) and the direct guardian’s consent. “Does a 40-year-old woman need the consent of her minor son? Can a conservative father refuse his daughter’s travels for education or treatment? What sort of message are we trying to send to the world?”
When not participating in Shoura Council activities, Dr. Darandari occupies a post as assistant professor in the department of psychology at KSU. She is also the supervisor of the evaluation and development unit (Qiyas).
 
 


We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States help build stronger ties. (AN photo)
Updated 19 September 2018
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We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

  • We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States: US Public Affairs Counselor in KSA

RIYADH: Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States “help build stronger ties between the two countries and bring them closer together,” according to Brian Shott, the new US Public Affairs Counselor in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at a reception to welcome him at the US embassy in Riyadh on September 18, he said: “One of the main things we do is we try to share aspects of the United States and of American culture, but we also learn from Saudis and Saudi culture.” 

In her opening speech, the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Martina Strong also highlighted the enduring relationship between the two countries, saying: “Tonight is a celebration, a celebration of a friendship that has extended over many, many decades.”

Shott, who previously served in Morocco, Cairo and Baghdad, will be in Saudi Arabia for the next two years, during which he will promote educational and cultural exchanges.

“There are some real opportunities here and we have been fortunate enough to be able take advantage of partnerships with Saudi organizations and Saudi agencies, whether it is the General Authority for Culture or the Ministry of Education,” he said.

“We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States.”

Meanwhile, the reception also served as a farewell to Robin Yeager, the cultural attache in Riyadh. She said that it had been a “very dynamic time to be in Saudi Arabia. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be here at a time when I get to know first-hand the future that Saudis are trying to build.”

The night that women were were given the right to drive, she said she went out and saw the “thrill on their faces.” To assist with empowerment and other progressive policies, embassy staff work on social issues and provide leadership training for women’s groups, she said.

“It is beautiful because they take something that an American expert talks to them about and they turn it into the Saudi way to approach it,” she added. “It’s not that we are changing things; it’s that we are giving them tools, so they can build what they want to build.”