Feminism Saudi-style: Hundreds turn out do discuss women in society… but not a single member of the audience is female



This image show attendees at a conference in Saudi Arabia on the topic ‘women in society’ – and not a single one is female.

The conference, reportedly held at the University of Qassim last year, was attended by representatives from 15 nations, apparently all men.

The seats in the hall are filled with men in traditional Arab dress apart from one wearing a blue chequered shirt.

The photograph was published in a Saudi newspaper last year, and has since been making the rounds on social networks.

Twitter users have branded the image ‘absurd’, ‘the height of misogyny’ and ‘astonishing’ as the internet responded to what is only the latest proof of the gender gap in the Middle-Eastern nation.


Segregation between men and women in the oil rich country is widespread due to the ultra-conservative Wahhabi sharia law.

Restrictions mean they are not allowed to drive, they must use separate entrances at banks and offices, and a plan to build a city for female workers only has been announced.

 They also need permission from a male relative or their husband to work, travel, study or marry and a woman’s testimony counts for less than that of a man in a court of law.

Small steps towards gender equality has been made in the past year.

Earlier this year, King Abdullah appointed women to 20 per cent of the 150-member Shura Council, an unelected body which advises the Government.

In April, Saudi Arabia lifted the ban preventing women from riding motorbikes and bicycles, but only if they are accompanied by a male relative and dressed in full veil.


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