First Published: 2017-07-13

Activists praise 'overdue' reform on Saudi girl sports
Education ministry on Tuesday said state schools for girls would offer physical education from next academic year.
Middle East Online

Under Saudi Arabia's guardianship system, a male family member must grant permission for a woman's activities.

RIYADH - Rights campaigners on Thursday welcomed an "overdue" reform in Saudi Arabia to allow girls to take part in sports at state schools in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

The education ministry on Tuesday said state schools for girls would offer physical education from the next academic year providing they had the facilities.

"This overdue reform is absolutely crucial for Saudi girls, who have been denied their basic human right to health through exercise, joining teams, and the long-term health, economic, and education benefits of sports," Human Rights Watch's Minky Worden said.

"This important step forward can advance human rights and health for women despite the daunting legal hurdles that remain in the country."

Saudi Arabia has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women and is the only country where they are not allowed to drive.

Under the country's guardianship system, a male family member -- normally the father, husband or brother -- must grant permission for a woman's study, travel and other activities.

And women are effectively barred from sports arenas by strict rules on segregation of the sexes in public.

The ministry said introducing sport classes in girls schools come as part of the kingdom's "Vision 2030" plan for economic and social reforms.

Last year, Saudi Arabia appointed a princess to oversee women's sports in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia was represented by four female athletes at the 2016 Olympics, up from just two in 2012.

A Saudi state school for the first time introduced sports for girls in 2014, after a consultative council recommended the ban on women in sports be scrapped.

 

Libya to investigate 'slave auction' footage

Iraq top court declares Kurd referendum unconstitutional

Saudi Arabia, Arab allies push for unity against Iran, Hezbollah meddling

15 women killed in food aid crush in Morocco

Rare moments of joy at Arabs’ unprecedented World Cup qualifications

UN chief horrified by Libya slave auctions

Qatar 2022 chief has no regrets over hosting World Cup

Gheit says Lebanon should be 'spared' from regional tensions

Syria ‘de-escalation zone’ does nothing to stop civilian deaths

Is a demilitarised Palestinian state a viable option?

S&P affirms good Saudi credit ratings

Israel president faces big backlash over Palestinian scarf

Sudan leader to visit Russia Thursday

Seven years into Libya’s civil war, the chaos continues

Lebanon FM will not attend Arab League Iran summit

Syrian forces liberate Albu Kamal from IS

Israel votes to shut migrant centre, deport Africans

Diplomats from Iran, Russia, Turkey discuss Syria

Libya to investigate ‘slave auction’ footage

Piece by piece, Iran moves towards a ‘new empire’

Netanyahu faces new questioning over corruption case

Syria troops, allies retake most of Albu Kamal from IS

EU cuts funding to Turkey in 2018 budget

Lebanon's Hariri arrives in Paris

Egypt opens Gaza border for first time since unity deal

US-Russia rift threatens fragile prospects for Syria peace

'Caliphate' in tatters but IS still a threat

Saudi Arabia recalls ambassador to Berlin over Gabriel Lebanon comments

Russia again vetoes renewal of Syria gas attacks probe

UN weighs bid to save Syria gas attacks probe

IS attack kills 26 displaced people in Syria

Saudi FM says Lebanon 'held hostage by Hezbollah'

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 3 days

Turkish troops pulled from NATO drill amid new tensions

Six children among civilians killed in shelling of Eastern Ghouta

US official calls on Sudan to stop 'church demolitions'

Hariri set to leave Saudi Arabia for France

Fears of bombs, IS cells still haunt Mosul

Iraq retakes Rawa, last town held by IS

Riyadh striking deals with people detained in anti-graft purge

Iran criticises French Mideast policy

Russia again blocks UN resolution on Syria action

Israel military chief says ready to cooperate with Saudi Arabia

Egypt confirms death of wanted jihadist

UK denies link between citizen detained in Iran and £400m debt