Asharq Alawsat reports that discussion are underway concerning the creation of a Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Saudi Arabia. In one sense, this isn’t a good thing: it tends continues the already exaggerated segregation of women and men. In another sense, though, it does raise the status of women in general and would double the number of women in the Saudi Cabinet. There is no argument, I would think, that women do face different challenges than men, though sometimes a little too much is made of those differences, IMO. Many countries, though not the US, do have ministries dedicated to women’s affairs. The issues facing Saudi women, though, are so different, from those facing Saudi men, often uniquely so, that I believe this proposed ministry is a necessity.
Saudi Looks into Possible Ministry for Women’s Affairs
Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat- The establishment of a Ministry of Women’s Affairs’ in the Kingdom could soon be a reality, Asharq al Awsat can reveal.
Sources revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that this proposal has been brought to the attention of higher authorities lately, after it was recommended in a study commissioned by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce. The proposal is expected to initiate a qualitative shift for Saudi women, and will perhaps mark a turning point between the period before the Ministry, and the future.
The proposal was revealed by Dr Basmah Umayr, the Executive Director of Al-Sayyidah Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid Center in the Jeddah Chamber, without giving a timeframe for its implementation. She said that the Women’s Ministry would contribute to “the transportation of women to [the level] of decision-making”. When asked about the problem of overlapping jurisdiction with other groups and ministries involved in providing services for women, she denied that this would be the case. “There will be joint objectives, with each group contributing according to its specialty,” she said.
Umayr said there were predominantly two contrasting opinions regarding the proposed ministry. One view opposes the proposal, on the grounds that it would in fact differentiate women from the rest of society. The other view supports the proposal, believing that the ministry would emphasize that women are now able to achieve the positions they previously hoped for. “Globally, we found upon studying the situation that many developed countries still reserve a ministry for women,” she said. “Women’s affairs are limitless, and there are many issues related to them.”