A Historic Olympic Move

What is considered a monumental step towards equality in Saudi Arabia will be occurring during this years Olympics.

The ultra-conservative country of Saudi Arabia will be, for the first time ever, sending two female athletes to represent the country during the 2012 Olympics, held in london.

The women must dress in appropriate clothing, a Saudi official stated.

For the first time, Saudi television will air women competing on a national stage – a bold move for a deeply religious and Conservative country who don’t even allow girls to participate in gym class.

“They’ll be role models for girls,” said Eman al-Nafjan, a Saudi educator, writer and blogger in Riyadh. “There are a lot of girls who do love to play sports in Saudi Arabia.…They do actually love to play. But it’s very hard. There are no facilities for them.”

“Just the fact that the Olympics committee is pressuring Saudi Arabia will get the dialogue going,” on easing prohibitions on gyms and sports and physical education for Saudi women and girls, Ms. Nafjan added.

Though this seems as a great step forward, many still have doubts.

Females from Saudi Arabia believe this is only a tactic to make the country look better. They still believe though that women will not reach full equality for a long time.

“It does not change the fact that Saudi women are not free to move and to choose,” said political analyst Mona Abass in neighboring Bahrain. “The Saudis may use it to boost their image, but it changes little.”

The Huffington Post writes:

Ahmed al-Marzooqi, editor of a website that aims to cover women and men’s sporting events in Saudi Arabia, viewed Thursday’s announcement as mostly an attempt to quiet international pressure on the lone nation trying to stick with an all-male Olympic team. The other former holdouts, Brunei and Qatar, had already added women Olympic athletes – with Qatar even planning to have a woman carry its flag in London later this month.

Sarah Attar, shown training, will run in the 800-meter race. IOC

Sarah Attar, shown training, will run in the 800-meter race. IOC