I am thrilled to tell you that the Human Rights Watch Campaign for Saudi Arabia to include women in the Olympics has made an impact. Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi Crown, has said that female athletes can participate in the London Olympics as long as the sports they participate in “meet the standards of women’s decency and don’t contradict Islamic laws”.
In addition, the International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge and Saudi government officials announced that Saudi Arabia is likely to send women to participate in the 2012 London Olympics for the first time ever.
Saudi Arabia still effectively bans girls and women from taking part in sport. Even if Saudi Arabia sends a female athlete to the Olympics, the reality for the rest of the Saudi women and girls does not change. Girls are not offered physical education in public schools and only men are allowed to belong to sports clubs.
Human Rights Watch has suggestions to further women’s rights. To create real, systemic change that would benefit all Saudi women and girls, Saudi Arabia should adopt new policies including:
• Establish a timeline for making PE a mandatory subject for girls in public and private schools.
• Allow the creation of women’s gyms & sports clubs.
• Create women’s sections in the sports ministry and the National Olympic Committee.
Read “Saudi Arabia May Include Women On Its Olympic Team” from Wednesday’s New York Times for more information.
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Photo via: Human Rights Watch