By RIYADH: ABDUL HANNAN TAGO, ARAB NEWS STAFF
Saudi women have been playing an active role in all walks of life in society and compete with men in acts of charity, according the book “The Women in Najd: Her Status and Role.”
They also enjoy freedom in financial matters and the right to personal freedom, thus disproving the stereotyped image of her being a victim of socioeconomic injustice and cultural taboos, said the book written by Dalal bint Mukhalad Al-Harbi and published by Darat Al-Malik Abdulaziz Library.
According to the book, women of Najd actively participated in wars and in the defense of their people. They sometimes struggled for a living in the absence of male guardians and relied on their own efforts to be self-reliant without being opposed by the community.
The book points out women also participated in all walks of life. There were doctors who treated the sick, teachers educating girls in her community, especially in religious matters like the Holy Qur’an. They also taught how to read and write, in addition to mathematics and accounting.
The book also tells us Saudi women were known for their role in promoting knowledge among people. To this end, some distinguished women and princesses were keen to distribute books and finance their distribution among poor people, including students, to help them in the pursuit of knowledge.
“So we can see the women through a range of documents, which establish her clear picture in her community and also her outstanding contribution in various activities. She engaged in trade, sale and purchase as well as other transactions without any negative perception from her community,” the author points out. She added that women could even defend her financial rights with full confidence or depute somebody on her behalf.
According to the author, Najd women lived in a tolerant society that ensured their rights at all levels, including civic administration. The book said the contributions of women of society in all classes were appreciated by the communities they lived in. They were scientists, teachers and physicians.
The book also focuses on the nature of Bedouin women. The first element of her character is patience with her personal life and harsh nature of outdoor life.
Talking about the impact of the environment on the characters and lives of urban women, the author said her research found that in the transition from a nomadic to urban life women retained many of the same attitudes and personality traits. Urban and nomadic women both look at men with admiration and appreciation especially if they defend their town.
Talking about the role of women in the family, the author said the mother occupies and important place in a Najd family. She performs home duties to ensure psychological security and stability.
According to the Family Relations Act, the mother has the authority and responsibility for the upbringing of children until they become young adults. The children then become the responsibility of the father until the age of marriage.
She also plays the role of mediator in the family. The book said the father’s relationship with his children is conservative, whether they are boys or girls, so the mother defends them before the father and conveys their wishes and opinions to him. Similarly, she conveys to the children the opinions of their father, and urges them to abide by them.