King Abdullah has announced in his speech something monumental in regards to women’s rights in the Kingdom. This is a historical moment for Saudi women and Saudi Arabia as a country. King Abdullah has announced that women will be allowed to vote and participate as members in the appointed Shoura council.
I was so happy that upon hearing this I just wanted to go give King Abdullah a big bear hug!
Ok maybe that wouldn’t be the greatest idea.. But you get the idea of how excited I am. This is big news. Saudi women are soon going to participate in decision making in Saudi Arabia. This also gives hope for the future for more decrees like this from the King. (ahem women driving..) Not only the Saudi women but the whole country will benefit from this change.
In my opinion, the King is doing a great job considering the circumstances he has to work under. Just thinking about all the current issues and problems in Saudi Arabia that would need change/improvement gives me a headache! So taking into account where he had to start off with (post 9/11 Saudi Arabia and appalling state of women’s rights just as example) when he began his rule, coming to this point really does become monumental and turning the tide for Saudi women’s rights.
It must not be easy having to deal with strong opposition to decisions (like the one permitting women to Shoura), coming from the religious conservative leaders, and on the other hand the more liberal part of society which strongly opposes some other decisions.
King Abdullah has to deal with the heavy pressure from the religious clerics to stick with their own religious views and interpretations but also the opposing public opinions, he has to listen to his many brothers in high governmental positions, manage other family members pushing their opinions and demands on him..then there’s the king’s advisors and some relatives with their own agendas, people doing a lot of things behind his back.. and of course most importantly he has to deal with his conscious, to be the just ruler that is ultimately responsible only to Allah.
It looks like most of the time his ultimate choice has been listening to his heart, and that’s undoubtedly what makes him so loved by the Saudi people, who call him the ‘King of Hearts’.
The King, estimated to be around 90 years old, said in his speech:
“Because we refuse to marginalize women in society in all roles that comply with Shariah, we have decided, after deliberation with our senior ulema and others to involve women in the Shoura Council as members, starting from the next term”
On a side note, it sure took a long time for them to realize they’d been marginalizing women but better late than never I guess.
Personally I think this is great news and indicates that the country is ready to move forward to this century. Some others have been more skeptical. People are saying this is not really going to mean anything concrete will happen for improvement of women’s rights.
Critics are saying women are not actually going to have any power in the Shoura, but will only be like puppets and all this was done solely for statistics and looks. The Shoura council and municipal election themselves are said to have little or no actual influence on how the country is ruled.
The King also said in his speech:
“Muslim women in our Islamic history have demonstrated positions that expressed correct opinions and advice”
King Abdullah then gave examples from the times of Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century. During the era of the Prophet some women acted as lawyers and people would go to them with complex legal issues, there were female scholars and in general women participated in the society as equals.
It’s ironic that the rights given to women by the Prophet over a millennia ago were later taken away by so called religious men and then it took this long for Saudi-Arabia, the birthplace and “model-country” of Islam, to restore some of those rights from times some people refer to as “the Dark Ages”. Yet it seems like modern day Arabia is living in a new era of the Dark Age because of how they marginalize women in their societies.
That leads me to think how come major rulings like this can be made, but the problem of women driving still exists? How will the women chosen for Shoura show up for the meetings? Isn’t it humiliating if she cannot have the most SIMPLE right of driving, but on the other hand she is able to participate in such an important council?
Is women driving really more momentous than women voting?
What do you think readers? Are the Kings rulings just a way of getting the focus OFF women driving or a prerequisite TO women driving?
As the eternal optimist, I say it’s the latter.
More about King Abdullah’s mission to improve women’s status in the Kingdom: http://blueabaya.com/2010/08/king-abdullah-emissary-of-saudi-women.html
From other blogs:Sabria’s blog http://saudiwriter.blogspot.com/2011/09/saudi-women-demonstrate-they-are.html