Thursday, 25 May 2017

Empowering Women



'Wear What You're Told' and 'Do What You're Told' seems to be the prevailing culture facing women in Saudi Arabia.

Now Saudi women in this male dominated kingdom are not allowed to vote, can't drive a car and are prevented from leaving the family home, even to seek medical advice, without prior permission from their male guardian.

Yet Melania and Ivanka Trump both say that great strides are being made towards the empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia - one of the most conservative countries in the Islamic world.




   


Flat vs Round (23/11/16)



Religion gets a bad press quite a lot of the time, often because its senior figures and most ardent followers say and/or do the most stupid things.

Take the supreme religious leader of Saudi Arabia, Grand Mufti Abdulaziz Al Sheikh who still seems to believe that the earth is flat rather than round.

Not just that, of course, because his attitude towards women belongs in the Dark Ages too.   

  


Mad Mufti (06/12/13)

Mufti and the Monarch
The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia has proclaimed that the ban on women driving in this repressive  Islamic state protects society from “evil”.

What a plonker! - you have to say - while wondering why women are able to work other modern inventions such as washing machines without any of these men in beards batting an eyelid.

Anyway, the grand mufti - who is also known as - Shaikh Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah Al Shaikh- said in recent a speech delivered that giving women the right to drive should not be “one of society’s major concerns”.

Well, of course not - because where would it lead - the next thing you know women would be demanding to be able to go out by themselves, unescorted by a male relative, choose whom to marry, if an when to have children - and what kind of education or career to pursue.


The mufti's comments came as women activists were assured by the Shura Council - and advisory body to the all powerful King - was still reassessing the controversial Saudi ban on women drivers.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving - and this backward attitude has drawn condemnation from the international community.

Saudi Arabia's all-appointed consultative Shura Council is an attempt by the monarchy to substitute for and elected parliament - the council makes recommendations to the government, but the King remains the only and absolute legislator.

At least 16 women were stopped by police during a driving protest day last month and were fined and forced - along with their male guardians - to promise to obey the kingdom’s laws.

In addition to the driving ban, Saudi women are forced to cover themselves from head to toe and need permission from a male guardian to travel, work and marry.

I wonder if the grand mufti can really in touch with his feminine side - especially as a recent scientific study has declared women to be better and safer drivers than men?

Shurah Council (29 June 2013)



I've been scouring the internet searching for news of the Saudi Shurah Council - to see if this body has finally decided whether women in one of the most conservative of Muslim countries in the world - are able to drive.

Not able to drive in a physical sense, of course, because women in Saudi Arabia are able to operate plenty of other mechanical devices - ones that came along long after the motor car - such washing machines, air conditioning devices and TVs. 

Yet the country's religious rulers don't seem to have a problem with women getting their 'hands dirty' on these domestic contraptions - so why do they get their knickers in such a twist about women being able drive a car.

It's a control thing, of course - whatever will these pesky women want next: the right to control  when and if they have children, perhaps, what clothes they want to wear or the right to a decent education - and a job with a career.         

But as soon as I know what the Shurah Council has decided - I'll share it right here. 


What's the Point? (18 March 2013)


What's the point of the Duchess of Cornwall?

Is the question I'm asking myself after reading her comments about the 'remarkable' social changes this royal personage has witnessed - since her last visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabi in 2006.

Now the Duchess - or Camilla Parker Bowles as she is more commonly known - was at the the Bab Rizq Jameel Nafisa Shams Female Academy for Arts and Crafts in Jeddah - and the Duchess and said, quite spontaneously, apparently:

“I’ve noticed that since the last time I was here there’s been a sea of change. Talking to people, they all tell me they think there’s a big difference and they are all so intelligent and sensible. I have had so many more chances to meet women.”

Before adding that the cakes on display were so good - that she would like to take some with her.

Now I'm not naive enough to believe that members of Britain's royal family should be going off abroad fomenting revolution in other countries - fun though that thought might be - but surely this woman could have thought of something slightly more intelligent and worthy to say than these banal comments.

Meanwhile women in Sudia Arabia continue to fight back against one of the most conservative and repressive regimes in the middle east - because Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to forbid its women citizens to drive.

The Saudi ban - which is a religious proclamation- is due to be debated again by the Shura Council - which advises King Abdullah (89) on such sensitive matters - the country being an absolute monarchy of course, as opposed to a democracy.

So the King's word is law - although he is open to argument from time to time, readers will be pleased to hear.

The Shura Council last debated the ban on women drivers in 2006 - and while at that time the King's advisory body rejected any changes out of hand - since then its 150 members include 30 women appointed by King Adbullah in January.

The Shurah Council has agreed to reconsider the issue after receiving a petition of more than 3,500 names - and its deliberation will be televised which is bound to reignite the public argument over women’s equality.

So here's hoping that women drivers in Saudi Arabia become a fact of everyday life soon - the only down side, I suppose, is that they'll have less time to make such famously good cakes.



No Woman No Drive (01/11/13)



A young Saudi comedian - a young man named Hisham Fageeh - has entered the fray by poking fun at his country's ban on women drivers.

Hisham's novel idea was to come up with his own version of the classic Bob Marley number - No Woman No Cry - by re-working the song as No Woman No Drive.

A bit of gentle fun it has to be said, but no doubt the Saudi authorities will heartily disapprove because they know that this sort of humour is subversive - and may strike a chord with men and women alike.

Political protest is forbidden in Saudi Arabia which operates as an absolute monarchy - but Hisham's No Woman No Drive has gone viral on the internet and has received almost 7 million hits on YouTube since it was launched last week.