Saudi Arabia’s growing gender equality culture has captured my attention in the past thirty days. Here are some highlights of how it was able to:
On Friday, May 17, Raha Moharrak, a 27-year-old woman from Jeddah and part of a group of Arab mountaineers who call themselves ‘Arabs with Altitude,’ became the first Saudi woman, AND the youngest Arab, to climb Mount Everest. Moharrak explained that the process of getting her family to agree to this trip was more difficult than overcoming Everest itself, but stated that she has now has their full support. Upon her return, Moharrak made this inspiring statement:
“I really don’t care about being the first, so long as it inspires someone else to be the second.”
Moharrak’s achievement was not sponsored by the Saudi government, but still represents and inspires the nation and region’s women.
Arwa Al Hujaili:
In 2005, universities in Saudi Arabia began accepting female law students into their programs. As those students started to graduate in 2008, however, graduates found it impossible to actually register as practicing lawyers. A whole campaign was started on Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook, calling for women who have law degrees to be allowed to become registered lawyers. After three years of being one of the leaders of this campaign and consistently petitioning, Arwa Al Hujaili, at 25 years old, has finally received her registration to practice as a trainee lawyer.
“People tell me I’m a pioneer and I feel I need to live up to what they expect of me. There’s a great sense of responsibility. From now on, people will look at everything I do.”
Al-Hujaili hopes to pursue a career in family law to help other Saudi women reach their goals.
Tackling Domestic Abuse:
In a monumental step towards bringing to light the domestic abuse issue, Saudi Arabia has, for the first time, initiated a campaign called “No More Abuse,” seeking to remedy the culture of silence surrounding violence against women. The mission statement is direct and simple:
“The phenomenon of battered women in Saudi Arabia is much greater than is apparent on the surface. It is a phenomenon found in the dark. We want to achieve justice for all women and children exposed to abuse in all parts of the Kingdom.”
A poster obviously isn’t enough, but it is a significant initial step in bringing the attention needed to this issue, whether it is in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else.