Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia

By Kristen Johnson

Thousands of women in Saudi Arabia are petitioning to end “guardianship” in the country. Guardianship is set of laws that require women to gain permission from a male guardian to get married, work, and travel. About 15,000 Saudis have signed the online petition, which was submitted to the government on Monday. Although women gained the right to vote and run for office last December, the guardianship system is still largely intact and women are still unable to drive. (Christian Science Monitor).

Let us hope that the women in Saudi Arabia continue with their non-violent protest to insist on change in their country. This system may seem archaic in the United States, and it most certainly is archaic, but women in the U.S. have only had the vote since 1920 (less than 100 years). And, we continue to fight for gender equality. Politicians continue to degrade reproductive rights, make it difficult to gain access to birth control, and refuse to sign an equal rights amendment. We also continually fight sexual harassment in the workplace and elsewhere, sexism in high and low places (think about Donald Trump for a minute), and we still have no broad access to government-funded affordable childcare in spite of fighting for it since the women’s movement of the 1970s.

The ACLU reports that women still only make 78 cents for every dollar a man makes, and that 1 in 4 homeless women are homeless because of violence committed against them. The National Women’s Law Center reports that women are 35% more likely than men to live in poverty and that more than one in eight women and more than one in three single mothers are poor.

Clearly, we still have work to do in the U.S., and clearly there is work to be done in Saudi Arabia. But, gender equality is good news for everyone. Science Nordic reported on a study done last year which concluded that:

If you live in one of the more gender equal countries in Europe, the chances of having high quality of life are about twice as big as for those living in one of the less gender equal countries.

Moreover, the chances of depression, divorce, or becoming a victim of violent death are smaller. This applies to both men and women.

Gender equality is good for everyone. It’s also important to remember that God sees us equally.And, it started that way right from the beginning!

Genesis 1:27 (NRSV): So God created humankind[a] in his image, in the image of God he created them;[bmale and female he created them.

Romans 2:11 (NRSV): For God shows no partiality.

To our sisters in Saudi Arabia – we salute you. Let’s keep up the work here and abroad for women and children everywhere.

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of: Stocksnap.io


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