Saudi women breathe the air of freedom ... It's time for sports

From Paris Fadwa al-Shibani

In a huge gym, with a sound of music mixed with the sound of the ball hitting the ground in a basketball court, about ten girls, all female students at King Saud University in Riyadh, are living moments of freedom that have been achieved after decades.


   Elle magazine reported that the Saudi woman is living her best moments after being allowed to practice sports in the Kingdom's schools as a part of the radical changes and reforms that the Kingdom witnessed in order to empower women.


For her part, Dr. Inas Al-Issa, vice president of the university's women department, had to fight the reluctance of some conservatives in order to include basketball, karate, swimming and cycling in the girls' sports program in schools and universities. 


The campus, which brings together 30,000 students in science, medicine, literature, economics and law, many of them from modest neighborhoods in the kingdom, one can notice the changes taking place in Saudi Arabia. "Female students roam the area with a hood on their heads, Sneakers, and drink coffee before going to lessons. "


 The report added that allowing girls to practice sports in universities and schools is just a part of the radical reform led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, from where the Saudi women will be allowed to start driving on June 1, a "victory for the well-known Crown Prince" Mohammed bin Salman, 32 years old and crowning of years of struggle led by Manal Al-Sharif and Lujin Al-Hathul, Maysa Amoudi, and other Saudi women activists”.

 The report also affirms that this change would not exist if it wasn’t for the young Emirati, who is perceived as progressive and modernized by many of the young generation (under the age of 30 , representing 65% of the Kingdom's population), carefully incorporating some reforms aimed at women and young people in his plan, Vision 2030, a social and economic "modernization" program that aims to increase the participation of women in the labor force to 30 per cent. It also allows concerts and cinemas in public places, which was inconceivable only one month before, as well as allowing women to do sports at schools and drive cars and bicycles. " 



Noor, one of the Saudi women who now enjoys reforms done by the crown prince, said: "Through the modernization of society, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seeks to embrace youth and give the country a new image in the world. Especially since Saudi Arabia was elected for the membership of United Nations Commission for Women starting in 2018 for a period of four years. But the road to freedom is still long. "


 Huda al-Halisi, a member of the Saudi Shura Council, said she was not surprised by the changes taking place in the kingdom, one of the rural women appointed to the Shura Council. "When we got to the parliament, we were insulted by religious extremists, we are still being criticized by some, but we have won our place where women now represent 20 per cent of the members of the Council. “



“We haven’t won everything yet," she said. “This country was established in 1932, and it is a modern country. You cannot go from a tribal society to modernity in the blink of an eye ... Not long-ago people were still talking about "equal opportunities" between men and women. Today, we dare to talk about gender equality. It is a very big step ... Today, society is undergoing a critical transition.  We want to preserve our identity while joining the modern world. And it's a huge challenge. "

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