Nowhere in the world are women’s lives more regulated than they are in Saudi Arabia. But, writes Mai Yamani, Saudi women activists are beginning to eloquently demand the removal of restrictions and an end to women’s dependency
The unexpected visibility and assertiveness of women in the revolutions unfolding across the Arab world – in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and elsewhere – has helped propel what has become variously known as the “Arab awakening” or “Arab Spring.” Major changes have occurred in the minds and lives of women, helping them to break through the shackles of the past, and to demand their freedom and dignity.
Since January 2011, images of millions of women demonstrating alongside men have been beamed around the world by television journalists, posted on YouTube, and splashed on the front pages of newspapers. One saw women from all walks of life marching in hope of a better future, for themselves and for their countries.
They appeared prominently – eloquent and outspoken, marching daily, holding caricatures of dictators and chanting calls for democratic change. They walked, bussed, travelled in carts, telephoned and tweeted with compatriots, motivated in part by social demands – above all for their own empowerment.