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Discuss traditional barriers faced by Arabian women

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Women all over the world have faced certain prejudices and restrictions based on their gender. The scenario becomes more oppressive and difficult when it comes to countries like Saudi Arabia where women are denied many of the basic rights which most of the first world countries cannot even imagine. Women in Arab countries face severe discrimination based on religious grounds and the traditions that have been followed through ages ("The Challenges Saudi Women Face at Work" 2017). This article will explore the various subjugations that the women face in those countries. Furthermore, it will also throw light on the ways the women have handled this misogynistic approach of the society and have achieved significant positions in various spheres. This paper will also give an insight on various questions of women empowerment that will pave the way for further research on this area.

Arabian Women: Overcoming Traditional Barriers

Researches and findings have suggested that women of Saudi Arabia face severe challenges and societal pressures which come as a barrier to their advancement. Among all the factors that strip off the equality of the women, the significant ones are the prevalence of gender stereotypes, dearth of mobility, limited growth opportunities, excessive work pressure, low salary structure, lack of career advancements, pregnancy related problems, and work- family balance ("Multilingual creative reformists: Saudi Arabian women's ingenuity in overcoming economic, religious and cultural barriers to career success" 2013). Despite the concerted effort of the government to promote female participation in the workforce and employment scenario of the country, Saudi Arabia has failed to increase its rate. There are various incidents of discrimination that shows the dominance of the patriarchal society and the suppression of human rights. In daily lives, women experience the prohibition on different aspects that includes, restrictions on revealing dresses, the imposition of hijab/ burqa, permission from male members of the family to go abroad, etc ("Multilingual creative reformists: Saudi Arabian women's ingenuity in overcoming economic, religious and cultural barriers to career success" 2013). They are also forbidden from interacting with men outside their family and reserve sanctity in this manner. Several case studies have shown the darker sides of this society where women bending these laws are severely punished. The root cause of this male dominance can be traced to the societal beliefs and the unacceptance of the drastic change in women's lives by the male society. They strictly adhere to the acceptance of the women's role as their mother, sister, or wives who cannot be given other rights apart from engaging them in households. All these factors act as a major barrier in the active participation of women in the workforce and other spheres of lives. Another significant aspect that can be noticed in these societies are the absent of intermingling among both the sexes in public places. These rules are backed by the government impositions which restrict the rights of the women, barring them from free participation. The social structure has also left its evil mar on the education sector along with employment opportunities. As mentioned earlier, the guardianship of at least one member is needed in the Saudi Arabian culture. Before the marriage, they are under the strict supervision of their father, which gets transferred to the husband after marriage. It must be noted that after the death of the husband, the wife's guardianship is again transferred to the husband's heir ("Female participation in the Saudi workforce: a Saudi perspective of key barriers" 2012). The right to travel similarly lies under the permission of the member and one cannot work according to one's free will. This shows the presence of zero freedom of women within the boundaries of their society and religion.

When it comes to the religious aspect, it can be seen that Islam has a major role in shaping the minds of the society. The religious writings have an impact on the lives of the female as well as the male society. The teachings focus on the dominant role of the men, and have implied that women freedom come from secular and western society that need not be accepted. Moreover, it has also inculcated the idea of a men free world that can be caused by the movements of women ("The Challenges Saudi Women Face at Work" 2017). All these assumptions and preaching have prompted the society to take away the rights from the women and keep them in dark. Other notable discriminations can be seen in the academic field where women are denied education in some of the significant educational field agriculture and engineering which is "unfit" for females. These types of instances also cease the women's right to enter in various arenas of the workforce. All these oppressionscome as the denial of the basic human rights and women face regular challenges accepting this guardianship of this strict society ("Inside the Lives of Young Women Living in Saudi Arabia" 2017).

From the above scenario, it is evident that the Arabian women experience the lack of expressing them to the fullest and have become the mere puppets in the hands of the male domination of the society. However, by interviewing and discussing these serious issues of that society with some of the women, their different views of the acceptance towards patriarchy can be reflected. While the majority of the women can be seen accepting these guardianships with no questions, some rebels definitely find this dominance to be challenging. The latter group has reported the barriers they face constantly and the coping mechanisms they have adopted to fight the scenario. Women from a particular section of the society have reported to enjoy some of the prohibited things and lead the "underground life" in some other places beyond their parents' knowledge. Moreover, they also unleash their strictness where non-Saudi people live and they enter as visitors ("The Challenges Saudi Women Face at Work" 2017). Interviewees from the former group have reported that they enjoy doing household chore and attending to the needs of the male members of the family like husband and sons without any questioning on their role as a human being. This shows the disparities prevalent in the female section of the society itself that have also led to the continuation of the male dominance. Moreover, they are married off soon before even they reach the age of 18 and in some cases; it becomes the end of their academic career. When it comes to the selection of partners, female are not allowed to put their opinion as the male members are there to decide her fate. However, some of the open minded families give the women the freedom to have their opinions in this regard. Some of the families reflect severe nature of oppressions where females are even abused or punished in the name of breaking the rules.

On these instances, many of the families stop from being ruthless due to the fear of scandals ("Inside the Lives of Young Women Living in Saudi Arabia" 2017). When it comes to the workplace, many organisations have decided to limit the progress of women to up to certain extent where they wouldn't be able to supervise the male section of the workplace. However, these typical views have been challenged and many of the organisations are looking forward to changing these rules and accept the women in senior positions without bending the cultural norms. Responsibility in the family is also another aspect which has barred the females from participating in the fuller utilisation of their human resources. This absence of flexibility is a mark of major concern that needs to be put into further analysis. The inability to maintain the work life balance is seen as a major drawback which hinders in grabbing opportunities that come in their way ("Saudi women's work challenges and barriers to career advancement" 2017). Moreover, according to the religious ground, women are protected by the Sharia law where the male members of the family are bound to meet the needs and requirements of the females. While many females enjoy this as a privilege and accept their fate within the male domination, other women seek for employment in various spheres. The latter group has also demanded flexibility within the society and have questioned their rights in comparison to the females of other countries.


Women of Saudi Arab have been subjected to oppressions and severe restrictions that have opened grounds for various discussions all-round the globe. Though the government of the country have been said to work on major concerns on women's right, a significant number of questions still remains unanswered. The society backed by the religious grounds has resulted in this disparity which calls for serious attention. Many sources have suggested the possibility of building women's career despite the strictness. Moreover, the participation of women has increased nowadays, which has given a threat to the Saudi culture. The main challenges of this scenario is found to be the lack of women empowerment, lack of resources and the adherence to the conservative approach of the society. Acceptance and open mindedness of the educated sections of the society can bring changes to the current situation. The government should also take stringent steps to eradicate the disparity. However, the culture and religious aspects have restricted them in several ways which seems impossible in the near future to see a positive approach towards the women upliftment and empowerment. Therefore, women of Saudi Arab have a long way to go to get their deserved rights and freedom against the stringent rules of the country.

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