Closely following the announcement that women will be allowed to drive from June 2018, Saudi Arabia comes out with another announcement, stating that from 2018, women will be permitted to enter sports stadiums. On Twitter the General Sports Authority of the country released the following statement :
“Starting the preparation of three stadiums in Riyadh, Jeddah and Damman to be ready to accommodate families from early 2018.”
As per the Global Gender Gap Report 2016 published by World Ecoomic Forum, Saudi Arabia ranks 141 out of 144 countries in terms of gender parity. We had earlier written about a radical music video, challenging the restrictions Saudi Arabia places on its women.
Among the many things women cannot do in the country are –
1) Marry, divorce, travel, get a job or have elective surgery without permission from their male guardians
2) Mix freely with members of the opposite sex
3) Conduct certain business without a male sponsor
4) Get a fair hearing in court
5) Receive an equal inheritance.
The announcement is in line with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform drive to bring changes into the highly conservative kingdom. Last month, women were allowed inside the King Fahd stadium in Riyadh for National Day celebrations. This move, despite the significant backlash among conservative sections of Saudi Arabia, was also hailed by many activists.
As part of the “Vision 2030” plan of the Crown Prince, for economic and social reforms, the aim is to boost female employment. Currently, among its many rules, under the country’s guardianship system, a male family member, normally the father, husband or brother, must grant permission for a woman’s study, travel and other activities.
Earlier this year the education ministry allowed girls to take part in sports at state schools. So this step to allow women into sports stadiums is a significant step in the right direction, by bringing women into the sporting arena. We firmly believe that sports is an instrumental way of empowering women, and our project in Haryana, is aimed at achieving just that. We are thrilled that a highly radical and conservative country is slowly taking small steps towards gender equality, and ultimately towards giving women their rightful place in society. We hope to see many more such significant reforms from Saudi Arabia in the future.