Less than a week following Saudi Arabia’s invitation to join the United Nation’s Women’s Rights Commission, it rejected a proposal to establish sports colleges for women which would allow them to publicly participate in sports.
The top advisory council in Saudi Arabia—which still denies girls the right to participate in physical education programs—considered a proposal to fund colleges where women could be trained as fitness and well-being instructors. According to the Associated Press, the measure failed to receive enough votes for approval, likely because the country’s clerics believe that women’s exercise is immodest, sinful, and sexualized.
UN Watch reports that women in Saudi Arabia are currently forbidden to take part in any physical education, fitness activity, or organized sports. Additionally, they are banned from participation in tournaments, state-organized sports, and from attending sporting events as spectators.
Heat Street reported that “In February, the country began granting women-only gym licenses, which was seen as a big step to more independence for women. But the main incentive was to motivate women to get fit since a lot of the female population reportedly suffers from diseases linked to limited physical exercise such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity.”
Four female athletes were sent by Saudi Arabia to the 2016 Rio Olympics following an ultimatum issued by the International Olympic Committee—include women on the Olympic team or be barred from participation in the games. The Saudis selected several women who were allowed to compete despite their inability to deliver Olympic-qualifying performances.
Currently women seeking to study sports or physical education must pursue education in other countries.
Women in Saudi Arabia are denied many basic rights in education, healthcare, legal matters, and business ownership.
H/T: Heat Street
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