Saudi women are taking charge in promoting religious, political, social, economic and educational change in their economically, religiously and strategically influential country.  As they become more educated and informed of regional and global developments and trends, many Saudi women are becoming increasingly disenchanted with their social conditions and impatient with their government’s policies against them.

Despite women’s efforts in the past, the last decade, especially since 2008, has witnessed more women’s activities that are slowly changing the extraordinary state resistance to reforms in Saudi Arabia.  Until recently, most Saudi women activists rarely appeared in the media until they began to access modern technologies to mobilize and express their views on issues that could have merited heavy punishment by autocratic and theocratic Saudi authorities if discussed publicly.

Most of what the international community hears about or seems to be interested in is the Saudi women’s campaign for their right to drive.  While this is an essential first step toward women’s mobility and emancipation from forced reliance on male relatives and hired hands, it is not the only objective Saudi women are striving to achieve.  They are working on other milestone initiatives that are beginning to change things for the better for them and for their society.  Prominent among these initiatives are equality in economic opportunities, education, health care, sports and removal of impeding business laws, as well as de-legitimization of the male guardian system and child marriage. The dividends of achieving these basic citizenship objectives will have sweeping implications not only for Saudi women and society, but also for the international community. 

Ali Alyami Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (CDHR)
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