Commentary | There Is No Going Back In Saudi Arabia – Al Maeena
Published: January 19, 2013
SUSRIS periodically shares perspectives from columnists in Saudi Arabia and around the Gulf. Here today for your consideration is a recent column by Tariq A. Al Maeena who writes regularly for Gulf News.
There Is No Going Back In Saudi Arabia
Tariq A. Al Maeena
Saudi women’s empowerment is in keeping with a society that is beginning to debate the social and cultural traditions that are interspersed with Islamic edicts
Since taking over, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia has been admired for his efforts to empower Saudi women. In stages, laws have been passed that defined and protected the rights of the marginalised females whose absolute dependence on their male guardians occasionally left them on the short end of the stick.
Recently, the king executed his commitment to ensuring a larger role for Saudi women in the political arena by appointing 30 women to the 150-member Shura Council, a body that debates issues pertinent to Saudi society and proposes laws that are then submitted to the Council of Ministers for further debate and approval.
In his decree, King Abdullah dictated that women shall comprise 20 per cent of the Shura and will be full participants in all active discussions and debates. There will be no lines drawn or barriers except for the physical ones, such as separate seating areas and separate entry doors. This is necessary in a society that is currently beginning to debate the various social and cultural traditions that are often interspersed with Islamic edicts.
Reaction to the king’s move has been positive throughout the country for the most part. Saudis have genuine affection for King Abdullah — a man they see as deeply concerned for their welfare and stability. Many husbands, fathers and brothers appreciate the opportunities today that have been granted to the womenfolk.