When I was younger, medical I despised being a woman. I saw it as a restrictive evil. Women are unable to drive where I grew up, in Saudi Arabia. As a result, I was forced to beg my father for a ride to pretty much everywhere. When my father agreed to drive me to the mall, I was forced to wear an abaya by law since I am a woman. Although the temperatures reached up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, I was forced to wear an abaya over my already publicly appropriate outfit. This is a sign of oppression. Women cannot flaunt their gifts to the world, but men have the opportunity to wear whatever they desire. In public, I looked like a clone to every other woman due to a predetermined restriction set by the government.
Men are the dominant sex since men perform the majority of working class jobs, for instance, jobs in grocery stores, restaurants, taxis companies, and public buildings. It is until recently that women have been given the opportunity to take over a few of the predominantly male positions. The abaya, however, has brought many restrictions to the positions sought by women because of safety precautions. Although the abaya is used for religious and traditional purposes, which I deeply respect, it has always represented a form of oppression for me. “Because I am a woman”, I told myself as a child, “I will never attain independence or a position higher or equal to a man”.
Going to school to get an education seemed illogical since I would one day marry and have a husband control me. My Nigerian father also reiterated this ideation, by reminding me that women were supposed to be ruled by men. “What is an education for a woman?” my father pondered. “It is everything”, my mother told me. My mother continuously reminds me that the only way to destroy the cycle of oppression for women is through education and success. When a woman is able to get a higher position than a man, that man will be forced to acknowledge that women are valuable and have the ability to be everything a man can be and more.
It was in high school when I started to truly understand the burden of being a woman. I noticed how men would stare at me with haughty eyes when I dressed well in public or how my male classmates would make comments, which deemed them superior to the females in the class. “Who do you guys think received the highest mark”? My teacher would ask the entire class. “Probably a boy or one of my guy friends, since they are the smartest” retorted a boy. I abhorred this continuous cycle and decided to join a club, Young Women’s Association to have an outlet to advocate for change. Through this association, we have shed light on many women’s right issues in my high school in Saudi Arabia. We have created many posters listing the statistics behind women’s rights, we also created a women’s appreciation week-where the males are expected to show appreciation towards females in their kind words and acknowledge the reality of what women are forced to go through in Saudi Arabia, and we have created a big female lunch-in where every female was advised to come, eat food, and discuss the experiences and consequences they have encountered through being a woman. Since we are women in Saudi Arabia, it has been terrifyingly difficult if not illegal to protest and demand change from the government. Therefore, although our efforts seem minimal, they will eventually pay off and women will have rights in Saudi Arabia! Inshallah many women tell me about there opinions on women’s rights, which means if God wills in Arabic.
Written by Jessica Nwachukwu