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Women Once Again… - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Lengthy debate is now taking place in Saudi Arabia regarding a work system better suited for women especially in the retail sector. Since this new system is associated with women, it is bound to receive much criticism and opposition in every way, even if Islamic history and the biographies of its prominent figures disagree with what is being said. The issue of women is a last resort for extremists in their numerous attempts to spread radicalism and intolerance. This matter is one that has always been accompanied by ridicule and naivety that mistakenly associates the backwardness of nations to women rather than to the spread of injustice, the corruption of judicial systems, or the deterioration of education and prevalent tyranny.

It is permitted religiously for women to work and this issue receives the required support from a large section of the Islamic world and its religious scholars.

Women’s issues have shifted from “ordinary” topics such as different social and economic matters, to issues that are dealt with in the most strenuous manner. This had eventually led to the absence of objectivity and awareness of the interests of society as a whole when issues about women are raised. There are many questions regarding women that still require awareness and a lot of positive thinking such as those related to education, judicial systems, rights, work, sports and investments in all its forms.

For as long as we deal with women as though they are “backwards” or from another planet, the same narrow-minded view of women that is filled with anxiety and suspicion will remain.

Women’s issues go further than that of the work system that is “inapplicable,” as it comes with a number of complicated conditions that do not suit the essence of work and its different circumstances. More importantly, it is far from the essence and teachings of Islam, which considers women an integral and responsible part of society. The situation is connected to the ability of society to reconcile with itself, therefore all its elements, without exception or distinction.

Equal opportunities are a fundamental right that is theoretically granted to all members of society. What we genuinely hope for is that the theoretical aspect would come into practice and be productive and capable of achieving the best results to benefit all spectrums of society. Is it not time for a new perception of women? The answer is a loud and clear yes.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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