The seemingly all-male meeting of an inaugural girls’ council sparks online backlash..
Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a graduation ceremony and air show marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of King Faisal Air College in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on January 25.
But web commentators quickly noticed something odd about the press photo of the launch – there were no women in it.
Salman invited Trump “to lead a Middle East effort to defeat terrorism and to help build a new future, economically and socially”, for Saudi Arabia and the region, Saudi media reported.
Saudi Arabia views the Shiite-ruled nation’s influence in Yemen, Bahrain, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria as a danger to its security. Their religious law dictates that women can not interact freely with men, drive a vehicle, practice sports or go for a swim, and they must wear a hijab or burka at all times.
There are also laws requiring women to get a male “guardian’s” permission for many activities, and a widely held taboo against women driving. Women are not allowed to do such things as study, travel overseas, or marry without this guardian’s approval.
The two discussed critical bilateral and regional issues including the conflict in Yemen and counterterrorism efforts, a U.S. state department spokesperson told Arab News. For example, on February 5, The Independent reported that Saudi Arabia had hosted its own Women’s Day.
A new plan has called for increasing Saudi women’s role in the economy, including boosting their participation in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent by 2030.
The meeting took place on Saturday in al-Qassim province. However, many were shocked when actual pictures of the event were released on March 11.
The gender segregation and all male panel members on stage for the Qassim “Girls Council” might seem amusing or wrong to some Westerners, but making them the butt of jokes does nothing but uphold an oppressive ideology that has no business in supposedly feminist arguments.