A Saudi call for women's rights
By Abeer Al-Harbi,
Women represent solace and shelter. As mothers, sisters, wives, and sweethearts, they help men in their endeavors. Women are independent human beings with independent thought and soul. However, women remain to be unfairly treated and often with suspicion.
In tribal traditions, good things are attributed to men while bad things are blamed on women. If a woman does something good, her father will be praised for raising her to be upright. If a man does something bad, his mother will be blamed because she did not raise him right. These are negative traditions that have been imposed on us.
You might meet someone who commends the way women think and how successful they are. But you will find that at the back of his mind this person may hold obsolete tribal ideas about women, as if they are a disgrace to their families.
In our society, women suffer immensely in order to make their dreams come true. Not only are they deprived of their social rights, they are always placed in difficult situations due to tribal traditions that have no place in our religion. In our society full of contradictions, women are allowed to do certain jobs but not other jobs. It is permissible for women to work as school principals or student counselors and talk to male officials of the Ministry of Education or Civil Defense as well as male guardians of students, although there are chances that they will be harassed by men. But it is not permissible for women to work in a radio station as a show host because such a thing is deemed to be a major sin.
There are also women who are allowed to do some things which other women can’t do. For instance, a female teacher can travel long distances with a group of women and with a driver who is not their mahram (a male relative they cannot marry). This is permissible for them but not permissible for, say, a nurse who works for a polyclinic near her house and, thus, she may never find a husband.
To the guardian, father, brother and husband, it is better to win the hearts of your women than alienate or lose them as a result of suppressing their feelings just because of obsolete tribal traditions. Trust them. Your fears that they might go astray may tie their hands and prevent them from achieving great things. If a woman wants to go astray, she will do it even in your home without you knowing it.
Raise your voice not to scare them but to say that “we have raised the rights of our women”. Let your women chase their dreams and make them live happily with your support. Men must view women as their partners in building a happy family and a productive society.