Do we really need a ministry for women?

Last week news came out that the government is seriously considering a women’s affairs ministry. The idea for a ministry originated from an official proposal sent to the government from a group of influential businesspeople in Jeddah. The main point of the ministry is to ensure that women related laws and regulations are followed through and implemented in the other government ministries. I respect the people behind this proposal and I know that they have good heads on their shoulders. However two issues come into play. First of all the ministry proposal is actually one of many in the study that they had presented to the government.

“The study, entitled “Businesswomen in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, also called for “the appointment of women as members in the Saudi Shura [consultative] Council…In addition to this, there is also a recommendation to “remove restrictions imposed on women, whereby it is necessary to appoint men as directors of projects that serve both sexes”. There is also a demand to “ease restrictions on women commuting on public transport, as well as women’s driving, and international travel”.

I’m speculating here but there’s a good chance that some decision maker looked over this list and thought to himself out of these which is the easiest to do to placate these influential unhappy Jeddah rich. Another gender-segregated building for women that will only add ignorable paperwork to our bureaucracy mountain, that’s doable. Hey it can even work both ways and make the muttawas happy.

The second issue is a nagging feeling that this ministry will only add to our misery. Currently, if I go to any ministry, even the ministry of justice I am treated differently and in most turned away at the door because I am a woman. I have to go to a little side-building for women only where a receptionist or clerk is only allowed to process the most routine paperwork. I would not be surprised if this women affairs ministry turned to a women only island where these receptionists and clerks would be moved to as ambassadors of the other ministries.

A ministry for women’s affairs might work in other countries where women are viewed as less advantaged but still fully human and can walk about freely. Here in Saudi, that is not the case. Women are “the other”, something to be taken care of and guided lest it go wayward. A ministry that takes care of only women is just a little too agreeable to the ongoing gender apartheid for my taste.


Filed under Gender Apartheid, Women campaigns, Women driving

10 responses to “Do we really need a ministry for women?

  1. Thanks for providing the background to this proposal.

    As I have commented elsewhere, Canada has a Ministry on the Status of Women, which was instituted in 1982 to specifically protect women’s rights across ministries, and has worked well to foreground issues of inequality, and to advance women’s careers within politics across all ministries.

    Iran has a separate Ministry of Women’s Health, which supports and is part of the highly gender-segregated practice of medicine there. I don’t agree with that level of gender segregation, or gender apartheid, but that Ministry and the fact that there are separate medical schools for women do advance women’s careers in medicine (there is a deliberate effort to train women doctors to treat women), academia, administration and politics.

    Whether a Ministry of Women’s Affairs would work to benefit women in Saudi or make their lives more difficult, would depend on how it is structured, what its mandate is, how it is staffed, and what real credence and power are given to it.

    If it does happen, one would hope it would be an asset to fulfilling progressive goals within Saudi society.

  2. Hala

    I agree with the idea of a ministry for women affairs, actually I wrote an Arabic article sometime ago about this… I have my doubts as always with the call for it from certain influential groups, and the actual goals it will be implemented for… Yes, gender apartheid, bureaucracy, and wrong people in the wrong place can ruin the whole idea behind it and actually block the advancement of women rights:

  3. A7med

    If the gender separation is the main problem then why do they want to establish a separate ministry for Women!!!
    Aren’t they by doing that agreeing to the gender separation!! funny people

  4. Kha

    I hope that this Ministry for Women is created to ensure women’s rights and laws are implemented and taken into account. The worries you have brought up, Saudiwoman, are based on the Saudi experience I have not had (but have certainly heard of). I hope you are wrong, but I know that you also have a good head on your shoulders and that you may be right. The segregation of genders and sex in Saudi are hindering a lot of progress.

  5. مهيتاب

    السعودية ضحية عملية نصب عالمية!

    وقعت السعودية على بروتوكولات تعاون فرنسي نووي !!!!!!

    الطاقة النووية السلمية أصبح موضوع قديم عفى عليه الزمن ومحفوف بالمخاطرومعظم الدول المتقدمة بدأت تستعمل بدائل أخرى سلمية للطاقة أقل تكلفة وأقل خطرا وتحقق نفس النتائج .. فلماذا لانبدأ من حيث انتهى الأخرون؟ لماذا نشترى دائما التكنولوجيا القديمة سواء فى المجال العسكرى أو السلمى؟

    ايطاليا والمانيا يعتبران من أكبر الدول الصناعية فى العالم .. الأولى لا تستخدم الطاقة النووية والثانية ستتوقف عن انتاجها واستخدامها فى سنة 2020 وحاليا تستورد الطاقة الشمسية من أسبانيا وفى المستقبل القريب من الجزائر.

    السعودية يستطيعون تغطية كل احتياجاتهم الكهربائيه وكذلك تحلية مياه البحر من الطاقة الشمسية و طاقة الرياح و أستغلال النفايات فى أنتاج الطاقة .

    هناك 5 مقالات هامة عن هذا الموضوع و هى النووى كمان و كمان ـ كارت أحمر ـ كارت أخضر ـ الأشعة الذهبية – ألوان‏.

    السعودية تحتاج إيضا لمحطات تنقية مياة الصرف الصحى و الزراعى لأعادة تدويرها و الأستفادة منها و هذا الموضوع بالتفصيل فى مقال صراع فى الوادى.

    ارجو من كل من يقراء هذا ان يزور هذا الرابط :

  6. Hala Mikati

    We all have read during the last couple of weeks the issues with Abbott Milks….people it contains pieces of insects!!!! And they say it’s ok…your kids might feel some minor disturbance….these are our kids!!! They mustn’t feel disturbed!!!!

    Abbott company is paying heavily for Ministry of Health and for the doctors in Saudi Arabia!!!! To cover for these stories…Abbott is investing a lot of money in paying doctors and nurses in health care centers and for doctors to travel to Europe and conventions!!!! So that these same doctors sell their infested milks!!!!

    I am a mother…educated …and will not accept this….if our Ministry and baladiya will not do anything about it because they get paid from abbott…then I will do!!!!

  7. Saudi~LIBER~ALI

    هذه خطوة الى الوراء
    الى ما قبل قرار دمج التعليم

    حراس الفضيلة ذولا ما ودهم يستريحون
    أنت يا بو نووي

    البلد يجب أن يستعد لحقبة ما بعد النفط و يؤسس جميع أنواع الصناعات
    و النووي مطلوب، و الشمسي مطلوب، و الرياح أيضا

    ذكرت المانيا (التي فكرت بالتراجع عن خططها بالغاء الطاقة النووية اثناء ارتفاع اسعار النفط) و ايطاليا و لم تذكر فرنسا. انتاج فرنسا للكهرباءعن طريق الطاقة النووية بلغ ٧٨.٨٪ و هي الرائدة في هذا المجال عالميا

    المقالات التي أشرت اليها ممتازة. التنمية هي التحدي الأهم فعلا

    لكن لا أحد يستورد أو يصدر الطاقة الشمسية فانتاجها الى الان قليل جدا
    و للمنطقة العربية مستقبل باهر لو تطورت هذه التقنية

    لكننا ننتظرهم الى ان ينتهون من تطويرها و بيعها علينا
    بهايم ما نتعلم و الله المستعان

  8. abuknight

    it looks fine and i totally agree to have a ministry for women affairs
    but really afraid the next day we come out with a ministry for men affairs after all we all ask for equality

    for me i am pretty sure the nice work should be kept away from the government
    take the group of businesswomen in jeddah as an example

  9. Ahmed Fouad

    For the long run:

    We don’t..

    But as a transitional stage toward integrating Saudi woman into the different aspects of life and society:

    Yes we do..

  10. emiliana

    Toda e qualquer segregação significa atraso em qualquer cultura, em qualquer povo, acredito que para muitos povos se faz necessário im ministério, quem sabe as mulheres começam a ter direitos que para a maioria da humanidade são coisas básicas como dirigir um carro e não consigo entender e aceitar que se precise de um homem para se manter viva, em pleno século 21.

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