By Saeed Suraihi
May 1, 2017
BY three votes, the Shoura Council has defeated a proposal to establish women’s sports colleges in Saudi universities to graduate qualified females who will teach physical education in schools.
Housa Al-Shaalan, one of the three members who tabled the proposal, said the rejection of the proposal by only three votes was an honourable defeat. “It was a success in other words,” she said.
Out of 76 required votes, the proposal obtained 73 votes in favour. It needed only three more votes to be implemented. This was why Shaalan considered it an “honourable defeat”.
The fact that 73 members had voted in favour of the proposal reflects a clear change in the attitude of the public opinion, represented by the Shoura members, toward women sports.
Previously the opinion leaders in society would consider sport inappropriate for Saudi women.
Now there is a great change in this attitude. More than half of the council’s members supported the motion. The majority of the council’s members agree that sport is important for women. They also support building colleges to nurture Saudi women physical education teachers who can replace expatriate women working in the field.
The fact that this change of attitude has happened in a matter of only a few years is worthy of notice and should be considered as a sign of maturity.
It is a clear indication that society has realized the significance of sports for women and has therefore given up its extreme views against this.
The refusal of women sports has no justification other than the sexist view that women are incomplete creatures for whom practicing sports is a shameful thing to do.
The narrow defeat of the proposal to establish sports colleges for women on floors of the Shoura Council is the harbinger of an upcoming success. When the proposal will be tabled again it will definitely obtain enough support.
However, reintroducing of the proposal should be accompanied by sufficient examples of the achievements of Saudi women in sporting activities.
Saudi women participated in Olympics for the first time in 2012. The Saudi mission to the London Olympics included two women: Sara Al-Attar who competed in the 800-meter race and Wijdan Ali Siraj who participated in the judo competition.
After that the participation of Saudi women in Olympics continued though without any remarkable achievements. The participation in itself is a sign of success.
Shoura members who voted against the proposal should realize that women’s sport has become a necessity and a dire need of Saudi society.
The Saudi women who practice sports now do so either under the guidance of Saudi experts who have graduated from sport colleges or expatriate instructors recruited from abroad by the health and fitness centres.
The Shoura members should realize that the Saudi women are practicing sports either with the help of instructors or alone. They are practicing sports inside their homes and along the streets. The sports tracks that have been established in various parts of the Kingdom are being used by both men and women.
The members who said “no” to women sports should know that they are only delaying the wheel of change a little bit. They should know that they could not withstand the change for a long time. Women’s sport is therefore inevitable and is coming, whether we liked it or not.