Monday, 16 February 2015

King Abdullah championed women’s rights

Princess Hussa bint Salman has paid rich tribute to her uncle, the late King Abdullah, describing him as a champion of women’s rights and a man who was determined to ensure the economic and social development of the country.
“My uncle, the humane leader, has enabled women to claim their rights as mothers, sisters, daughters and wives,” she said recently. Princess Hussa is a lecturer in the faculty of law and political studies at King Saud University and a consultant for the Human Rights Commission.
Princess Hussa has in the past highlighted the efforts of King Abdullah to transform the country. At a symposium in 2013, shortly after the king appointed 30 women to the Shoura Council, she spoke about how these measures were changing the lives of women.
She also outlined the benefits of the plan to ensure women participate as candidates and voters in municipal council elections, which would materialize this year. King Abdullah also introduced measures to develop the judiciary, protect families and opened the doors for women to take up legal studies.
“The late king, God rest his soul, had a vision for social change that was deeper and more thorough than most people had in mind. While social debate was confined to the topic of driver’s licenses for women, he ushered women into the consultative council and municipal councils,” she said.
“This was to ensure the country modernizes, but with adherence to the principles of Islam, maintaining the social cohesion of Saudi families and protecting women’s rights,” she said.
“King Abdullah’s resolve to develop the judiciary was an immense, humane project that includes specialist family and personal grievances courts, which will grant women their rights and facilitate their promotion in its ranks.”
“This project by the late king, God rest his soul, has hit the nail on the head. This makes it imperative for us, women and members of staff at Saudi universities, especially King Saud University and those who teach at the faculty of law and political studies, which was opened to us during the reign of the late king, to educate women about their rights.”
She said these measures have to be undertaken in the country with the required legal checks and balances, and in line with religious and social traditions. While participation in the Shoura and municipal councils is a new avenue, this is “a very promising development and shall, God willing, bear great fruit,” she said.
Princess Hussa said that citizens of Saudi Arabia are convinced that her father, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, would follow in the footsteps of his father and previous kings, by prioritizing the development of women. She also hoped that the grandchildren of King Abdul Aziz would remain on the path pioneered by their elders. Princess Hussa said one of her father’s interests include history and that the King Abdul Aziz Foundation (Darat), which he established, is very close to his heart. Her father has also started setting up a research center for women bearing the name of his paternal grandmother, Sarah Al-Sudairy.
King Salman also encourages people to write books covering the history of women in the Kingdom. Recently the Darat published a book authored by Dalal Al-Harby, entitled “Women in Najd,” she said.
Princess Hussa said that there are also several women’s organizations conducting research and encouraging the writing of books on family affairs. One such body is Al-Nahdha, supported by Princess Moudhy bint Khalid bin Abdul Aziz, which also conducts awareness campaigns on a variety of issues.
It also published a book, distributed at a nominal price, and considered one of the most important references on women’s issues to date, entitled “The Legal Status of Women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” by Ayyoub Al-Jarbou’ and Khalid Abdul Mohsin Al-Muheisin.
Princess Hussa said that Princess Moudhy was like a daughter to King Salman. The monarch has always encouraged women of the family to take up projects that would benefit society as a whole, she said.
She said King Salman, even when he was governor of Riyadh, has used his administrative expertise to promote the status of women and ensure “continued and fruitful rapport with them.”
“A good example of this is his continued cooperation with Princess Sarah bint Muhammad, who has been deputy minister of social affairs for 40 years. Her work has branched out in numerous directions, making many people across the country view her as their adopted mother.”
“King Abdullah, God rest his soul, has achieved many milestones in the history of the Kingdom. My father King Salman, in a recent speech, confirmed that he is following the same pattern. This includes holding on to the precepts of our pure religion, preserving the interests of the homeland and its citizens, and consolidating the stability of this country, which has been favored by God as the birthplace of Islam. I miss King Abdullah but I find solace in the fact that God granted us King Salman to continue our march forward.”


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