Saudi Arabia “Advancing Women's Rights”?... Unfinished Oppression
In January 2015, as the son of Saudi Arabia’s King, Muhammad bin Salman, took rulership of the nation and actively began utilizing the female labor force, the possibility of improved women's rights in Saudi Arabia has been mentioned. In the 2030 Saudi Vision report released in April 2016, Crown Prince Mohammed stated women to be “Saudi Arabia’s other great asset” and said, “Our economy will provide opportunities for both genders. The aim is to increase female participation rate up to 30%." (Hankyoreh)
Following his word, in September 2017, Saudi Arabia finally allowed women to drive, and in June the following year, legalized punishment for sexual harassment. Overall, Saudi Arabia seemed to be showing progress in the female work environment. Furthermore, the Saudi government is showing steady efforts, such as producing the first female astronaut in Saudi Arabia in May this year.
However, the lack of improvement in lives of commoners are getting criticized. Saudi Arabian female are still required male approval when marriage and release from prison, is dress coded severely, and faces difficulty in speaking out publicly.
Above all, the acute wage gap between Saudi Arabia’s men and women underlines their prevalence of gender discrimination. According to a report on 'Saudi Arabian Women's Labor Force' released in December last year by Susan Saikili, a researcher at the Arab Gulf States Institute (AGSIW) in Washington, claims 'Although some progress has been made, the wage gap is a still ample at approximately 49%, and gender inequality mainly persists due to each gender’s inconsistent social expectations.”
In addition, last year, a woman was sentenced to 34 years in prison because she posted an article advocating women's rights on social media. Moreover, videos of women surrounded and beaten by men in an orphanage was circulated globally, showing the severity of Saudi Arabia’s gender controversy. To prevent further human rights violations and correctly promote women's rights, solutions should be discussed internationally.