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Saudi Arabia: Women Encouraged to Address Wide Issues in Society
RIYADH: The women's wing of the Human Rights Commission recently met with women consultants at the Shoura Council to exchange views on social development issues.
Social activist May Al-Issa, who was one of the consultants to attend the meeting, called on society to refrain from emphasizing women's issues and rights excessively, pointing out that it could alienate society further.
Al-Issa also indicated that certain council initiatives came as a result of citizens’ complaints or suggestions.
Fellow consultant Bahija Izzi commended Saudi women's achievements in socio-political realms.
Izzi stressed that there are no restrictions preventing Saudi women from socio-political activities, as they have already cracked many fields, including health, education and social affairs.
Izzi also pointed out that women have been a part of political life since the early days of Islam. It is important that women are considered a partner in decision-making and have the same citizenship rights as men, she added.
Explaining the role of women consultants at the Shoura Council, Izzi said while council members have the right to vote, consultants discuss official reports, analyze studies and propose bylaws and regulations.
Izzi hoped that women would become full-fledged members of the council one day.
Saudi women should not focus on women's rights alone, but should instead address problems of society as a whole, according to council consultant and pediatrician Nihad Jeshi. She pointed out that when a woman's role is restricted to family, she loses the opportunity to make an impact in other sectors and fields.
Jeshi added that women's participation as consultants in Shoura meetings proved their ability.
Maha Al-Monief, who is head of the family security program, commended Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah's political reforms, which in her opinion enhanced the scope of women’s role in society.
Al-Monief, who is also an infectious diseases consultant and human rights activist, pointed out that the Saudi Shoura Council is relatively young and therefore was inexperienced compared to parliaments in other countries.
She stressed that Saudi society was going through many changes and developments and women's participation in the council was only a first step.
Although the foreign media view Saudi women as ineffective and with no active role in society, Fatima Jamjoom of King Saud University believes that the increasing number of women consultants at the council proves otherwise.