Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ladies First: Saudi Arabia’s Female Candidates


I just watched “Ladies First: Saudi Arabia’s Female Candidates,” a short New York Times video documentary regarding the historic elections in Saudi Arabia last December.  The film features three different Saudi women who were not only granted the right to vote in local municipal elections for the first time ever last year, but who also decided to run for office.  

While Saudi Arabia remains a kingdom, at the local level there are city councils consisting of elected officials.  It should be noted that Saudi men were barely given the right to vote and hold public office in 2005.  The next election wasn’t until 2011.  That same year King Abdullah announced that women would be able to vote and run for office in 2015.   

Offering a glimpse inside the lives of these brave, yet very different, Saudi women, the film follows the frustrations and roadblocks females face in her day to day existence, much less in running for public office.  If the man in a Saudi woman's life is not supportive of her dreams, he has the right to reject her desires - because every Saudi woman has the legal status of a child her entire life, and every decision about her life ultimately rests with her legal male guardian.  

I highly recommend watching this film if you are interested in how things work (or don’t work) in Saudi Arabia.  Great job by Mona El-Nagger, an Egyptian journalist who has been covering the Middle East for ten years. 




7 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this documentary, I enjoyed watching it!

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    1. Glad you liked it. We don't often get to hear blunt talk from Saudi women - and I think this film comes about as close to that as we are going to get.

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  2. Here is the follow-up article by The New York Times.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/29/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-women.html

    I am always amazed that feminists think they are capable of telling the story of all women, and that all women who don't share their views are oppressed, uneducated, clueless, or otherwise mentally hampered. The comments she printed indicated that not all women are unhappy, and they imply that happiness is based on the education and openness of the men in their family, which is probably true. What I like best is the comment that men need to be taught to be better guardians, which I think is true of all religions. When men respect women, their lives are better.

    I don't think women should be denied the right to drive or vote, or need permission of a male to leave the house. But, I think it is important to note that life hasn't been a bed or roses for all women in the west. Women make more money and have more educational and professional opportunities, but they head more single parent families, have experienced an increase in poverty, and an increase in heart disease and cancers. It isn't wrong to want freedom, but be sure to plan for the costs of freedom, and do not condemn the women who do not want it, even if they are 23.

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    1. Thanks for the link, G.A. - I totally agree with you. Sure there are many women here who are not happy with the status quo, but there are also many who don't want anything to change too. Their happiness is totally dependent on the man who is their legal guardian. I know many Saudi women who don't want to drive, who don't want to work, who enjoy just taking care of their homes and families. I just wish they were more supportive of those women who may need or want to work and whose lives would be so much easier if they could drive. I'd like to see women here have the choice - and make their own decisions about their own lives if they want to or need to.

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  4. What a fascinating film about these brave women.

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