Women’s rights have a long way to go
In Saudi Arabia, there is always controversy when women’s issues are discussed or rights are granted. It is no secret that there are people who believe that women should obtain more rights, such as King Abdullah, who has been one of the biggest supporters of women’s rights. There are others who do not exactly share the same view. There are still people who believe that women should only take care of their families and not leave homes and their role should not exceed this. Such people try to interfere in women’s affairs as if women are not capable enough to make the right own decisions or think properly. They even speak and make decisions on women’s behalf. It is really ironic that sometimes when there is a symposium or lecture regarding women’s rights, we find all or most of the speakers are men, as if there were no women to discuss their own issues!
Some people think that they are protecting women by limiting their role to a traditional familial one but in fact they are depriving them from their rights. They have fought against women’s education in the past and now they have lost on this front, they have turned their focus to other fields, such as forbidding them from driving, working, playing sports and even obtaining an identification card.
Whenever women try to obtain some of their rights, the same group of people try to prevent them and if they could they would prefer build fences around women so they would not even leave their homes. Some of them have extreme interpretations of Islam and try to impose them on society, but they forgot that Islam came to liberate women and grant them rights, not deprive them. We have great examples of women throughout the history of Islam, such as Khadijah and Aisha the wives of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and so many others.
It is unfortunate that even for some people, who support women’s rights, they try to find justifications or explanations to grant them such rights as if they do not want to upset a group of people. For instance, some people believe that women should have the right to drive and they try to find a justification to grant them such rights, such as they should not be riding with a stranger driver. That is true, but women should be granted their rights without any justifications or explanations as these are their rights.
For those who are against granting any rights to women or who have demeaning views of women, they seem to forget that they are their mothers, wives, daughters and sisters and they should be treated with respect and granted their rights. They also seem to forget the great achievements of women and that they are now doctors, professors, scientists to name but a few and they have made tremendous achievements in many others fields, nationally and internationally. Women have also proven that they can compete with men in many fields and they are not less than them, if not better some times. Not to mention that more than half of our population is women and we cannot disrupt this half and work with the other half alone, as this would deter the development of our country.
The status of women’s rights has improved in Saudi Arabia but we still have long way to go. Women should be granted more rights, and many of the obstacles surrounding them should be lifted. For example, the requirement of obtaining the guardians’ permissions for women to travel outside the country should be canceled. Women have proven over and over that they are capable to plan their lives and make their own decisions and they do not need the interference of men in every single issue of their lives, only to complicate and make their lives harder.
I still remember when I was studying abroad, one of my professors, who visited Saudi Arabia, told me that in your country it is good to be a man and hard to be a woman. I think he is right but I hope that one day I can prove his comment on women is wrong and not valid anymore.
— Dr. Qaisar Hamed Metawea
Attorney at Law-Partner
Mikwar, Akkad & Metawea Law Firm
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