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Saudi Arabian Woman Cabinet Minister Must Have Permission to Appear on Television

Noura al-Faiz, Saudi Arabia’s first woman cabinet minister, told a newspaper that she will not appear on television unless she has permission to do so. She told the Shamss newspaper “I don’t take my veil off and I will not appear on television unless it is allowed for us to do so,” reported the Washington Post. She also stated that “it’s way too early” for girls to be allowed to participate in sports at school.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia named al-Faiz to be the new Deputy Minister for Women’s Education in February. Advocate Wajeha al-Huwaider told CNN at the time of al-Faiz’s appointment that she thought the appointment would be “the first step toward the reform that [King Abdullah] promised,” but that she was skeptical that al-Faiz would have real power, in part because the country’s guardianship system continues to paralyze women.

Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are currently limited on a number of fronts including marriage rights, freedom to travel, property ownership, education, and work. According to Human Rights Watch, although some human rights laws have been introduced in Saudi Arabia, little implementation or enforcement of these laws has occurred. At a meeting earlier this year, members of the United Nations Human Rights Council urged Saudi Arabia to actively work to end pervasive human rights violations in the country, particularly those against women and children.

Sources:

Washington Post 6/8/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 2/9/09, 2/17/09; Human Rights Watch Press Release 2/4/09; CNN 2/15/09