Before the world could get over the image of US President Donald Trump, surrounded by men, signing an abortion policy in January, Saudi Arabia gave them another topic to talk about. It launched an all girls’ council in al-Qassim province and though it was an encouraging initiative for a country which is otherwise known for not giving women any platform in public life.
However, while the Saudis were busy showing off their “great” initiative to the world, they just forgot one thing: the women!
The Pictures which showed the first Qassim Girls Council meeting had 13 men on stage, and not a single female. The women were apparently in another room, linked via video because of course it’s Haram for women to come in front of Ghair Marham (unrelated men).
The meeting that took place on Saturday has become famous on social media for its male-dominated pictures.
The launch was led by Prince Faisal bin Mishal bin Saud, the province’s governor, who claimed that he was very proud of the conference as it was first of its kind in the kingdom.
“In the Qassim region, we look at women as sisters to men, and we feel a responsibility to open up more and more opportunities that will serve the work of women and girls,” he said in a BBC interview.
The girls’ council is chaired by Prince Faisal’s wife Princess Abir bint Salman, who was of course not seen anywhere in the photograph.
In Saudi Arabia, a state policy of gender segregation between unrelated men and women has been enforced since ages. However, looking at the initiative one can say that the country might be thinking of loosening some of its archaic rules as a part of its Vision 2030 programme. The programme’s goals include increasing women’s participation in the workforce from 22% to 30%.
Though Prince Faisal in his speech at the launch, talked about how women make up half of the society, looking at the launch’s picture you might just get you confused!