Saudi Arabia – Desert Country. Birthplace of Islam. One of the countries in the world where oppression of women is at an extreme. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Pay Gap report 2015 placed it at 134 out of 145 countries in terms of gender parity. It is the only country in the world where women are prohibited from driving, and require permission from a male guardian for marriage/divorce, travel, education, employment, opening bank accounts, and elective surgery.
In this tyrannical society, a media production company 8ies (pronounced ‘eighties’) has released a video entitled ‘Hwages’, loosely translated in English as ‘Concerns’. A very radical video, it shows women in Saudi Arabia skateboarding, playing basketball and dancing, in bright colourful clothes, while covered in full Islamic attire, singing lyrics such as ‘If only God would rid us of men’. The video has been viewed almost 4 million times on YouTube since it was uploaded in late December.
As we celebrate the onset of 2017, and progress towards a better and brighter future, we are saddened that Saudi Arabia upholds such archaic notions, and oppresses its women in every possible way. At a time when women across the world are speaking up about their rights, and claiming their rightful space in society, it is appalling that Saudi Arabian women are denied one of the most important rights of any human being – that of choice. The deep rooted and omnipresent patriarchy in the Saudi Arabian society, is preventing its progress towards a developed country, and we only hope that videos as these lead to some social change in the country.
At Centre for Social Research, we are big supporters for using social media for creating and generating social change. Our campaigns #SocialSurfing & #TweeSurfing, in collaboration with Facebook and Twitter, aim to use social media for social change, by empowering the youth of India, with knowledge of online safety, and using social media to make a difference. We feel that social media is an excellent way to mobilize people towards important causes, and this video by 8ies is a wonderful example of the same.
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