Any Change is Welcome – Women’s Rights in The Middle East

The whole world applauded Saudi Arabia for its brave step toward ending the ban against women drivers. June of 2018 was the beginning of an age long tradition that curbed women from being independent in their mobility. However, the progress in liberating women is not fast paced in the Middle East. The steps that the kingdom takes toward women’s right are small, unpredictable and not-equal. The same conditions exist in North Africa as well. Women’s rights and liberation have been a debate in these regions for years, and notorious campaigns did little to shake their laws.

The Real Story Behind Allowing Women Drivers

The kingdom of Saudi has been on a massive campaign to turnover its economy and is steadily working toward building their economy apart from their oil revenue. Therefore, if they were able to provide women the opportunity to have jobs, the necessity to drive to work would stem. The idea of actual women’s rights is not at the crux of this change. Their civil rights have not been enhanced as part of this change. The move is a purely economically valued initiative. When women’s rights protestors took to the roads before the ban was lifted, the kingdom did not think twice about arresting them. While allowing women to drive is not a significant initiative, it is a step in the right direction.

As a nation, the act of lifting the ban is a massive step toward change. The potential of allowing women to blend into society is a freedom that has long been oppressed in the kingdom. Though a significant step toward equality, the main problem lies in the consent of guardians. Women are considered to be legal dependents of their male relatives. Any decision a woman takes cannot be accomplished without the consent of her male guardian. The resolution includes getting a passport or traveling either. The change to allowing women to drive could spark some change in the guardian rule as well, gradually.

The Start of Something New

With the liberation of women to be able to drive, there have been other critical matters that have been a target of change. The Arabian countries have come forward to criminalize domestic violence. 20 Muslim majority countries joined in the campaign to help the initiative. Governments have also blocked rapists from escaping the law if they married their victims. The six governments charged forward to deal with rapists the way they deserve to be treated, severely punished. Slowly, women are beginning to break into the areas that were dominated by males alone. The UAE showed off their first ever female fighter pilot in 2014, during an air strike against Islamic State in Syria.

Women have been coming forward not just in government office but in the sports arenas as well. Jordan highlighted the first ever woman wrestler in the professional scene, originating from Jordan. In business, for every three start-ups, one of them have been led by women. When it comes to political power, women are very slowly allowed access into the administrative areas of the Arab nations. The representation of women in parliament has been steadily rising. While these changes are just fabulous, the issues regarding child marriage, unilateral divorce, and women wearing veils in public is a continual fight.