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Baby steps to progress

  • Published at 06:43 pm September 27th, 2017
  • Last updated at 01:49 pm September 28th, 2017
Baby steps to progress
Saudi Arabia, a kingdom characterised by its cultural conservatism and lack of social freedoms for women, has finally granted women the right to drive. The transition comes not long after Saudi women got to vote for the first time in the 2015 election and it shows a glimmer of hope for gender justice and women’s rights in a country that is home to Islam’s holiest sites. Although it is rather late in coming, this positive momentum is just what brave women like Manal al-Sharif have fought for years to achieve, and something all Muslims around the globe can celebrate. As many Islamic clerics in other countries, including Bangladesh, look up to the Saudi regime for spiritual and moral guidance, hopefully this will set some of their backward ideas about women straight. King Salman has done the right thing, and deserves kudos for breaking with a sexist convention that should have no place in the 21st century world. Our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) upheld the rights of women at a time when doing so was considered radical and potentially dangerous, and so, it is good to see the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia taking steps towards ensuring better rights for women. Discrimination based on gender should have no place in the modern world, and here, even in Bangladesh, we have a long way to go if we are to root out retrograde values that hold women back in society. Progress begins with ensuring the equal participation of women in all areas, and safeguarding their rights at home, at work, and on the road.