Arab Spring and Women of Saudi Arabia

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Impact of Arab uprising on Saudi Women

For Student Seminar
Submitted by: Tahiraanjum(M.Phil2sem)

Center For West Asian studies
School of international relations
Jawaharlal nehru university
New Delhi-110067
Abstract:
The persistence exclusion of women from public life in contemporary Saudi Arabia is responsible for perhaps one of the most heated causes not only among Muslims but also worldwide, as Saudi society comes under greater scrutiny internationally. Although In the 1980’s, there were more female graduates in the humanities than male, discrimination did not die down. When the revolution started in Tunisia on 18 December 2010 and subsequently spread to in Egypt, Civil war broke out in Libya and potential crackdowns took place in Bahrain and Syria. Thousands of civilians have died and though it may be argued that some regimes have changed for the better, others continue retrogressive policies. However, there is one area where the Arab uprising could finally produce one of the region’s most needed and most overdue reforms, that is, women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. It is still unclear whether the ongoing demonstrations and protests of the uprising shall produce a positive or negative change for the region. This paper explores some of the achievements of Saudi women owing to the impact of Arab uprising, as well as its failures. It is the Arab uprising who proves that people can bring about change without waiting for permission or approval. This paper argues that in the context of Saudi women, strong action is the answer, for without strong action in this direction; the future will be bleak for women in the region.

Introduction:
Saudi Arabia is a country in Southeast Asia with a population of approximately 28.1 million people in 2011 from 4.0million in 1960.The country was established in 1932 by King Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdul Rahman Al Saud. Arabic and Islam are the official language and religion. In recent years, there is no sector of Saudi society has been subject to more discussions than the women’s sector and their rights are important. Although women’s rights and responsibilities have been equally controversial among both conservatives and progressives in Saudi society. The discovery of oil and oil generated revenue in the early 1970s introduced large scale changes, including the opening of education to both boys and girls. Oil and its resulting wealth had an unimaginable impact on Saudi Arabia in an extremely compressed period of time. The recent event has been affected on women and challenged Saudi society, a society that until then had experienced very little bit change in its policies toward women. This paper analyses the impact of Arab uprising on Saudi Women. The objective of the paper is three fold:-first, to highlight the current status of Saudi women in general and the role of government is particular, second to differentiate Islamic teachings from the literal and narrow interpretations of Quranic text that cause tensions around women in Saudi society, third to stress the progress achieved by the women.. women‘s inequality is traditionally structured in the society. Saudi women devise their it strategies to challenge gender inequality and achieve social justice not only in education but in all life matters, especially given the complexity of women’s issues and concerns in what is so called ‘ Third World’ Islamic patriarchal societies. As Doumato states... girls were taught enough to buy into an assigned role, a role in which they were subordinate to men, but not enough to challenge it. A women’s identity first appears in relation to her father’s family’s identity card. Later, if she marries, she will be added to her husbands’ card or in the case of her father’s death, to that of her nearest male kin. Women are learning to use the so called, legitimate language, religious language, a language that cannot be challenged by their male peers to attain their goals. Saudi women are also directed...
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