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Women rights around the world suffer from many disadvantages such as discrimination, lack of business experience and limited access to financing, the challenges for women may be more severe in Islamic countries where religion, cultural factors and lack of an entrepreneurial environment are additional deterrents. Human Rights Watch said that Saudi Arabian women have been denied the below rights have been denied the Right to Education, Employment, Health, Equality before the Law and Freedom of Movement and Equality in Marriage. The most important is that there are now several female advisors on the Consultative Council. While there are several Saudi women artists, photographers, film-makers, journalists, writers and fashion designers who have achieved positive critical acclaim both at home and abroad. This essay will discuss women rights in Saudi Arabia. It begins discussing Islamic law, then Women rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, then Education.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia declared the Qur’an as the constitution of the country, governed on the basis of Islamic law. Criminal cases are tried under Sharia (Law) courts in the country. These courts exercise authority over the entire population including foreigners (whatever religion they practice). Cases involving small penalties are tried in Shari’a outline courts. More serious crimes are adjudicated in Shari’a courts of common pleas. Courts of appeal handle appeals from Shari’a courts.
A recent study showed that the majority of family-owned businesses in the country are women – a fact that calls for greater involvement by Saudi women in managing business, both directly and indirectly. Many family-owned firms are in the middle of the largest in the country in terms of assets, operation and manpower. There are at least 460 such businesses; moreover, there is mounting pressure among these businesses to allow Saudi women direct involvement in business rather than willing them to keep their money in bank accounts. At present, there are some 20,000 firms owned by Saudi women; these range from ordinary retail businesses to various types of industry http://travel.state.gov. This figure accounts for some five percent of all registered businesses. The number of women registered in local chambers of commerce and industry is on the increase. The Jeddah chamber, for example, has more than 2000 women members out of a total membership of 50,000. In Riyadh, the figure is over 2,400 out of a total of 35,000 members and this represents a fourfold increase in just ten years. Businesswomen registered with the Eastern Province chamber number more than 1,000 out of a total of 14,000. The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce has recently established the “Khadija bint Khuwailid Center” to provide services for businesswomen facilitate business opportunities and provide guidance to support women to run their own business. (The center was named after the Prophet Mohammad’s wife who was the first Muslim businesswoman.) Women account for 55 percent of Saudi graduates but they constitute only 4.8 percent of the work force. At present only 5.5 percent of an estimated 4.7 million Saudi women of working age are employed. With the support of private and public agencies, efforts are being made to establish women-only projects that will employ 70,000 qualified Saudi women. Women in Saudi Arabia are making a growing impact on the economy and For the first time, some 20 women in Saudi Arabia have been allowed to attend a session of the national assembly, which advises the monarchy. The women were allowed to follow debates in the consultative council on Sunday from a balcony overlooking the chamber.
There are several Saudi women artists, photographers, filmmakers, journalists, writers and fashion designers who have achieved positive critical acclaim both at home and abroad. Saudi women have contributed a lot to the community and have made the below development. Many brave Saudi women in business, academia and the media are leading the way for reforms within their fields in Saudi Arabia.
In report issued by Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org), Saudi Arabian women have been denied the below rights have been denied the Right to Education, Employment, Health, Equality before the Law, Freedom of Movement and Equality in Marriage. Saudi Arabia is also the only country in the world where women are banned from driving on public roads. Women may drive off-road and in private housing compounds – some of which extend to many square miles. The ban may be lifted soon, although with certain conditions. Although Saudi women make up 70% of those enrolled in universities, for social reasons, women make up just 5% of the workforce in Saudi Arabia, the lowest proportion in the world. The treatment of women has been referred to as “Sex segregation.” Implementation of a government resolution supporting expanded employment opportunities for women met resistance from within the labor ministry, from the religious police, and from the male citizenry.
Although women are legally not allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia, women in rural areas and other areas outside cities do drive cars. Many Saudis believe that allowing women the right to drive could lead to Western-style openness and an erosion of traditional values. They must be chauffeured to the airport. Prior to 2008, women were not allowed to enter hotels and furnished apartments without a chaperon (mahram). With a 2008 Royal Decree, however, the only requirement needed to allow women to enter hotels are their national ID cards, and the hotel must inform the nearby police station of their room reservation and length of stay, however this happens with everybody staying in the hotel not just women. Currently, Saudi women are not banned from employments; however they are not allowed to work in a mixed sex workplace. Today, education is mandatory for females and women make up 58% of University students.
The Saudi government has prioritized providing free education to all citizens without any discrimination, making education compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 15. According to the latest UNESCO in the year 2008, Saudi Arabia is moving toward the goal of achieving universal primary education. Outcome indicates that net enrollment in primary education, increase significantly to93.0%in2007(http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1748.html). The world’s largest women-only university is being built in Saudi Arabia; with a campus that will cover 8m square meters and accommodate 40,000 students. Due to open in 2010, the Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University, on the outskirts of Riyadh, will offer courses in subjects that Saudi women find difficult to study at universities where gender segregation is enforced. It will have a library, conference centers, 15 academic faculties, laboratories and a 700-bed hospital. There will be services for research into nanotechnology, biosciences and information technology.The government of Saudi Arabia has urged the kingdom’s private sector to play a bigger role in creating jobs for the rising number of women graduates. UNESCO and Saudi government figures show that women make up 58% of the total student population at universities. The Saudi Arabian government provides educational opportunities for females as well as males. However, usually women were deprived of official education. In 1948, the first elementary school for girls was founded in Mecca. During the next decades, girls’ education developed. In recent years the number of schools, colleges, institutions and universities allocated for girls’ education in the Kingdom has increased extremely. However, education in Saudi Arabia is sex-segregated, and educations for girls come under the authority of the General Presidency for Girls’ Education.
In recent years, no sector of Saudi society has been subject to more debates and discussions than the women’s sector and their role in the development process. What is more, issues regarding women’s rights and responsibilities in that development have been equally controversial among both conservatives and progressives in Saudi society. Saudi Arabia has instituted in the last year or so regarding the greater role of women in Saudi society and economy.
Although criticism from Human Rights Watch and other organizations that Saudi Woman have been denied the Right to Education, Employment, Health, Equality before the Law Saudi Women Saudi women are dynamic. They are ready and able to take on challenges that have arisen over the past few decades and are able to get success in several areas of public and social life.
Women hold successful roles as deans of colleges and universities, CEOs of banks and IT experts and also 40 per cent of Saudi medical doctors are female. They hold key decision-making positions in he Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Saudi Council of Engineers, the Saudi Management Society and the Saudi Lawyer’s Association. Almost all government offices at both national and local levels have appointed women to positions of responsibility.
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