Saudi Arabian women earn major victories in their fight for rights

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One issue that has long been a topic of debate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is gender equality. The KSA has long had political opponents who criticized laws from defining a woman’s dress code to prohibiting women from driving to preventing women from visiting certain places or certain activities without a male companion as sexist. However, political changes seem to be stirring. This past week, King Salman bin Abdulaziz issued a historic royal decree allowing women to drive starting Jun. 2018. The decision was met by various reactions. Some thought it is a great movement towards the process of empowering woman in the kingdom. Others have expressed their frustration that the change has taken too long and claim the country should not be praised for finally allowing women a basic human right. The reason behind the decision remains unclear. Many critics believe it is an attempt to improve Saudi Arabia’s image in front of the international community, especially considering its removal from the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee due to the nation’s alleged human rights violations against women. However, this was not the only milestone met that day. Now, women will also be allowed in athletic stadiums. In fact, they are now allowed to the join the celebration of the Kingdom’s 87th anniversary. King Salman announced that was only the beginning of a series of new regulations to protect and empower women; he also added that a law against sexual harassment is being prepared. Some are calling King Salman’s move calculated, though others see it as an honest step towards development. Indeed, positive economic ramifications are expected by removing obstacles that would otherwise keep Saudi women out of the workforce. In either case, for the Saudi women who have long been protesting the prohibition of their rights, these new developments represent significant steps forward in their cause for women’s empowerment.

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