The Saudi education ministry’s decision to allow girls in private schools to play sports should certainly be hailed as a positive move. But it is yet another reminder of the deep gender disparity that exists in the country.
It is unfortunate that a move so trivial should receive the kind of attention it has, proving once again that the march towards gender equality in the country is a very long one.
It also shows how far behind the rest of the Gulf states Saudi Arabia is in this march.
While women in the rest of the Gulf states rise to assume roles of judges, ministers and ambassadors, Saudi women are forced to celebrate tiny victories such as playing sports.
However, no matter how small a step this may be, it should be commended as a move to sideline extremist ideas and perspectives, some of which have led to sexist views being imposed on society for far too long.
It is important to appreciate the enormity of the challenge the kingdom faces in terms of enabling women to become active in their country’s development.