TEXT: LADIES FIRST
SPEAK UP or TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE
What is the issue?
The issue that I am focusing on is women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is “an incredibly private, patriarchal society” which entitles men to a guardianship which controls all aspects of a women’s life. The guardianship rules force women to attain permission from her male relative (father, brother, husband, son) to travel abroad, leave the house, seek medical attention and many other daily activities. The issue is that women are living in a society that is clouded by judgements of Islam which do not allow women to reach their full potential, and they do not care. The women are used to living in such a society that they see no future for change.
Why is it important?
It is important because every human deserves to understand their full potential, they might not reach it, but the opportunities need to be made available. Women are viewed as minors in the eyes of the law, and have no legal rights. They need to be able to function as fully independent human beings, as I believe this is a basic human right. It is important because it affects such a large portion of the population, and hence it is impossible for Saudi Arabia to fully modernize or develop unless the segregation laws as loosened.
Why do you care about it?
I care about this issue because it affects people I know directly. I am from Kuwait, which is bordering with Saudi Arabia, so I can fully relate to the women from Saudi since we have very similar cultures. I hear personal stories of how these guardianship laws restrict my friends in their everyday lives, and it frustrates them. For many women who study abroad for a few years, moving back to Saudi is in a way a culture shock, as they go from complete freedom to an oppressed society. I think it is unfair that they have to be subject to such laws which are extremely backwards, in my opinion.
What do you want to say?
I want to tell the women of Saudi Arabia to take control of their lives. Change won’t happen in an instant, it takes time and it takes many, so if they unite as a force I truly believe it will make a difference. I want them to understand that this is not the only way of living, and that they deserve so much more than what they are being put through, even though they might not all see it.
What is the influence you want your poster to have?
I want my poster to strike controversy, just as the image I used did. The image is taken from a music video created by Saudi artist, Majed Al-Esa, called “Hwages.” This music video focuses on the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia, and shows women in niqab’s skateboarding, playing basketball, and just enjoying themselves. The chorus of the song is “If only God would rid us of men.” This video has been condemned throughout the Middle East, and has been largely criticized by the entire region. I want to associate this with Mona El-Naggar’s documentary on the first elections where women were allowed to run and vote, entitled “Ladies First.” The documentary does well to shine a light on how the guardianship rules apply to the different social classes, and how that plays a role in whether or not they are able to speak up. I want the viewer to see that what is being criticized and banned in Saudi Arabia needs to be heard, it needs to be allowed to spread.