In a landmark event, Saudi Arabia held its inaugural Women’s Day in Riyadh last week.
It was a first-of-its-kind event in an ultraconservative country where women are still not allowed to drive cars or even go out for a bike ride without a male guardian.
It was a three-day affair, including talks and discussions that highlighted the achievements and contributions of Saudi women in different walks of life, especially education and sports, in spite of all the hindrances the patriarchal system creates for them.
Women from the ruling family were also in attendance, including Princess Al-Jawhara bint Fahd Al-Saud and Princess Adila bint Abdullah Al-Saud.
However, the event turned out to be an exclusive one for women, which of course, excluded men, who are eventually responsible for making reforms in the country, from the discussion.
“We want to celebrate the Saudi woman and her successful role, and remind people of her achievements in education, culture, medicine literature and other areas,” Mohammed Al-Saif, general supervisor of the center, told Arab News.
But in a country like Saudi Arabia, highlighting challenges faced by women is equally important as highlighting their achievements.
Saudi Arabia, after all, remains the only country in the world where women are not allowed to get behind the wheel of a car.
What’s worse, the powers that be are not even interested in initiating a conversation to allow women to drive cars.
Events like Women’s Day indicate a much-needed change in the way Saudi Arabia treats women. But if the country really plans on improving its state of women’s rights, then it’s important for both Saudi men and women to work together on a shared platform.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters