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Drafting a New Story: Women's Rights in the Middle East

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Fawziah al-Hani, one of AIC’s featured speakers at A Modern Narrative for Muslim Women in the Middle East, has just released her latest article on women’s rights in her native Saudi Arabia.  Titled “Marginalization,” the article tracks the failure of CEDAW in the Saudi context.  While the Saudi governments did ratify CEDAW just as many other countries around the world did, al-Hani laments that very little has changed for women in the Kingdom as a result.

Al-Hani goes on to describe, point-by-point, the discrimination and challenges that Saudi women face.  Saudi Arabia, she says, is truly a prison for women.  While the community may try and convince the Saudi woman that she is a Queen, and that she doesn’t need to work or to study, in reality, many times, women simply don’t have access to or the ability to make these critical life choices.   The Guardian law, which deprives women of any legal decision-making power, is one of al-Hani’s primary targets: because women have to seek permission from their Guardian for almost every serious life decision (not to mention smaller, more mundane occurrences), women legally have little freedom to chose their place of education, marriage partner, appear in court, or travel, among other things.

Al-Hani concludes her articles with an examination of the women’s movement currently working in Saudi Arabia.  She shows us the progress of the movement led by Saudi activists, and offers a glimpse of hope for improvements in the lives of women.  There are now women working in government offices and in private business in the Kingdom, positions that had previously been unavailable to women.  Still, much work remains to be done: attitudes need to be changed and the government needs to be more proactive and effective in order to see the true goals of CEDAW firmly in place in Saudi society.

Download al-Hani’s article here: _التهميش – فوزية الهاني.

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