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A step forward: Saudi Arabia has its first ever Women’s Day

In a first, Saudi Arabia celebrated its own Women’s Day over the weekend. A three-day gathering was held at the King Fahd Cultural centre in Riyadh, reported media.

Amongst those present at the event were female members of the Saudi Royal Family with Princess Al-Jawhara bint Fahd Al-Saud hosting a discussion on women’s roles in education. “We want to celebrate the Saudi woman and her successful role, and remind people of her achievements in education, culture, medicine, literature and other areas,” Mohammed Al-Saif, a spokesman for the centre, told Arab News.

Interestingly, there were no attempts to stop the centre’s artistic programmes by any party, said Mohammad Al-Saif, general supervisor of the center, to Arab News. Al-Saif also expressed gratitude for “heart-warming support and encouragement.

The event comes in light of directives from the minister of culture and information to highlight the role of Saudi women in all fields.

Saudi Arabia was ranked 141 out of 144 in the World Economic Forum’s 2016 global index for gender inequality. However, a 2016 Human Rights Watch report noted the positive development of allowing Saudi women to register to vote and to run for office in municipal elections in 2015.

In January, a video that highlights the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia had amassed millions of views on social media.

The video entitled ‘Hwages’, loosely translated in English as ‘Concerns’, shows women in Saudi Arabia in full Islamic dress taking part in various activities, singing lyrics that include: ‘If only God would rid us of men’.

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