Saudi Arabia is set to allow women to play sports in private schools for the first time as their reform on women’s rights are now underway. As of right now, women in Saudi Arabia are limited in most daily activities and civil life.
The conservative nation recently gave women the chance to compete in the London Olympics, which led to discussions and the eventual change. Saudi women will now have the opportunity to compete and enjoy sports at a young age, though there will be some restrictions.
Saudi Arabia’s official press agency released that women who participate in private school sports will be required to “dress modestly” and will also be supervised by female Saudi teachers.
The sporting activities come in accordance with Sharia law and are the first government sanctioned sports for women in the country. The new improvements will not change the educational program’s within private schools but should open the door for public school’s in the future.
Some public school’s in Saudi Arabia have physical education programs and new ones will be set in place for school’s that don’t. Most believe the progress for women in sports will eventually lead to further right’s and freedoms.
Saudi women are still not allowed to vote, run for office, drive cars, or practically do anything without the permission of a man. Though bringing sports to young girls in private schools is a small step, many see it as the start of a larger project that will come into place in 2015.
By that time, women will be able to vote or hold public office in Saudi Arabia. For now, they will enjoy sporting activities for the first time in private schools, which Aziz Yousseff, a professor at King Saud University, believes is a much bigger step than some expected.
“It’s about time,”Yousseff told the Guardian in an interview. “Everything is being held back in Saudi Arabia as far as women’s rights.”
Up until now, most Saudi women participated in underground sports, but they won’t have to hide anymore. Will changes in women’s rights become more prominent in Saudi Arabia after the decision to allow sporting activities?
[Image via Walter Callens]