The Condition of Women in Saudi Arabia - Seeker's Thoughts

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The Condition of Women in Saudi Arabia

The Condition of Women in Saudi Arabia

There are two categories women on the planet earth, one who lives in a developed country has access to education, financial security, and she is free to do as a citizen she wants.  In the same time, there are countries where women are raised as second-class citizens, and somehow due to social pressure women accept this.

In August 2019, one of the regressive countries for women has lifted bans against women. Regretfully That brought a resentment among the fundamentalist and orthodox.

Saudi Arabia in 21st century where women of other nations have landed on the moon and the country has allowed women to travel without permission and granted them control over family matters.  

The country still practiced male guardianship. Due to heavy criticism against the ‘male guardianship’ and ‘human rights scrutiny,’ Saudi Arabia has taken such a decision.

The amendments to regulations also grant women, for the first time, the right to register childbirth, marriage or divorce and to be issued official family documents and be eligible as a guardian to children who are minors.

The Place of Saudi Arabia in Gender Equality

Prince Mohammed unveiled an ambitious plan in 2016 to transform the economy by 2030, which envisages increasing women's participation in the workforce to 30% from 22%.

Saudi Arabia ranked 141 of 149 countries in the 2018 Global Gender Gap, a World Economic Forum study on how women fare in economic and political participation, health and education.

Previous Progressive Amendments

The kingdom's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has eased social restrictions, such as lifting a driving ban for women last year, as part of a push to open up the conservative Muslim kingdom and transform the economy.
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Last year's murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents caused a global outcry, however, and the Gulf Arab state has been widely criticized for the arrest and alleged torture of nearly a dozen women activists.

The reasons for the progressive decision

Riyadh has long endured international censure over the status of women, who rights groups say are often treated as second-class citizens under rules requiring them to get the consent of a male guardian for important decisions throughout their entire lives, regardless of age.

Several high-profile cases of young women seeking asylum abroad on claims of gender-based repression have added further pressure on Riyadh over the male guardian system.

Guardianship's status between law and custom makes it a thorny issue for Prince Mohammed, who indicated last year he favored ending the system but stopped short of endorsing its annulment.

Other parts of the system remain intact. Women still need permission from a male relative to marry or live on their own.

A hashtag calling for marriage without a guardian's consent was among the top trending along with a hashtag thanking the crown prince and another touting the new travel rules.

Social customs

The decrees published Friday also covered employment regulations that would expand work opportunities for women, who represent a big portion of unemployed Saudis.

They stipulated that all citizens have the right to work without facing any discrimination based on gender, disability or age.

Many Saudi officials say the fault lies in implementation and not government policy.

Without a codified system of law to go with the texts making up sharia, or Islamic law, the Saudi police and judiciary have long cited social customs in enforcing prohibitions on women. Many aspects of guardianship stem from informal practice.

The Condition of women in Saudi Arabia

Women can be discriminated in every sphere of life in Saudi Arabia. They needed permission to travel (if below 45) until 2019, conduct business, go for elective surgery, and until 2008 employment.

According to the women of the country, the fact is stated that almost all restaurants in Saudi Arabia (exceptions are luxury restaurants in hotels where citizens don't eat) are segregated into family zones where each table is shielded by a curtain or divider and men-only zones.

Women are not allowed to eat alone in general. Though some may allow them to go in family zones especially in Jeddah.
In some places, there are only men zones so women have to stand outside to get their order.

Sometimes it gets extreme, inspectors may yank the TV wires if they air a song with a female voice or a music video where a woman is singing, and inspector treats the incidents as pornography.

Waiters cannot smile in extreme cases as it is considered "sexual". There are very few women-only restaurants with female waiters. In other cases, waiters must be male.

Local women are underrepresented in the workforce.
Most women have jobs like teaching, medicine, and jobs which only involve women interaction. Engineering, law, architecture, etc were not acceptable until recently. Though it is getting better.

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