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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 8 March 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Reforms Aimed At Empowering Women



By Sarwat Faiz Ahmad

08 March 2018

Every year March 8 brings the joy of celebrating International Women's Day, glorifying women’s achievements and calling for gender equality. This time we are witnessing the biggest cultural shake-up in the modern history of Saudi Arabia with regard to Saudi women’s empowerment. A Saudi woman can now start her own business without the consent of her husband or male relatives, as the Kingdom pushes to expand a fast-growing private sector. The Saudi Arabia Government marks a major step away from the strict guardianship system that has ruled the country for decades.

This new approach will provide the Saudi women with golden opportunity to upgrade and highlight their talents and ideas. This will create an environment for Saudi women where they can make decisions on their own for personal and social benefits.

This is a welcome step taken by Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman who is being credited for various other reasons as well, particularly for implementing reforms in the conservative Wahhabi theology concerning women and their rights.

Islam encourages education for both men and women. Had it not been so, the 14th century society of Arab region would not have produced enlightened thinkers and scholars. However in course of time, true Islamic education had been vague in Saudi Arabia. But thanks to the education, once again Saudi Arabia is going to provide its men and women with equal rights in various social fields, marking a major step away from the strict guardianship system that has ruled the country for decades. In other words, it is going to be the biggest cultural shake-up in the modern history of Saudi Arabia with regard to Saudi women’s empowerment. 

After years of longing and struggle, Saudi women will now be seen driving in the Kingdom from the month of June 2018. Saudi women hope that their right to driving and participation in jobs will be a stepping stone on their way to freedom and equality.

What Saudi Arabia has done now should have been much earlier. However it is better late than never that Saudi Arabia has brought in reforms concerning gender equality. The Kingdom still needs to go extra mile, but it can proudly say it has done something good for women and the country.

Vision 2030, a brainchild of Prince Mohammed, is the blueprint for Saudi Arabia's modernisation in a bid to make the country more progressive and tourist-friendly destination which can attract the entire world.

Islam was actually the first religion to give women the rights of inheritance, right of property and right to business. Hazrat Khadija, the wife of the prophet (peace be upon him) was a successful business woman and thus she must be a role model for today’s believing women.

The Qur'an also encourages women to work and earn money~

“And their Lord responded to them, Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another.” [Al Qur'an 3:195]

The Quran does not distinguish between men and women; it commands both men and women to ponder upon the social elements and to work on it for the benefit of the mankind.

“(This is) a Book (the Quran) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember.”  (Al Quran, 38:29)

This is how Islam led the world with women's rights. As a result we can find a number of educated, remarkable and successful Muslim women throughout the world, who are happily enjoying their life and good career. Now it is Saudi women’s turn!!

Sarwat Faiz Ahmad, daughter of a journalist father, is a Lady Irwin School candidate with a penchant for writing on women issues.


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