Next meeting, 6th Feb: ‘Women’s Employment and Empowerment in Saudi Arabia’, 4-5pm, HumSS280

Hello everybody!

Our next talk is on the 6th February and will be delivered by Mona Almunaiey. Mona is from the Politics and International Relations department here at Reading. Mona will be talking to us about the institutionalisation of patriarchal norms in the Saudi labour market.  We will be in the usual place, HumSS280, at the usual time, 4pm.

Here is Mona’s abstract:

Despite the accelerated development of Saudi Arabia since the oil boom in the 1970s, Saudi women were entirely marginalised from economic participation. Women slowly infiltrated the labour market, albeit only in the education and medical sectors, as well as gender segregated bank facilities. Gradually, the situation improved since 2009 when the government started a series of legal reforms to expand women’s participation in the labour market permitting and promoting women’s employment in all other sectors.

 Paradoxically, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranks as the worst Arab country in women’s economic participation (the third worst country in the world) according to the gender gap index of 2016. This research argues that this discrepancy is a consequence of legal institutionalisation of patriarchal norms in the Saudi labour market, hence impeding the expansion of Saudi women’s employment.

We look forward to seeing you on Monday!


Meeting Report: ‘Investigation of Gendered discourses on Twitter about Saudi Women’s Issues’ 14th November

One of Lubna’s presentation slides: Saudi Women and Social Change

Thank you to all of you who attended Lubna Bahamman’s talk today – it was great to see so many of you! Lubna’s paper was a wonderful insight into how Saudi women are represented on Twitter either by themselves or by men. She highlighted the popularity of Twitter in Saudi Arabia and revealed that the majority of users were in their twenties. She also set the tone of her paper by emphasising the misconceptions of Saudi women’s freedoms and lives that are often all too evident in the Western Press.

After providing some context about Saudi Arabia and its laws, in particular those that came into force post 2001, Lubna gave two particular hashtags as an example of the linguistic research she is undertaking. These were: (in translation from Arabic) #newtravelcontrolsforSaudiwomen and #onethirdofSaudiwomenarespinsters. She focused on the first hash tag and explained how a piece of news about women needing the permission of their guardians to renew their passports was misappropriated into an argument about women being allowed to travel on their own. She explained that 63.8% of tweets using the hashtag were by profiles claiming to be women. She also outlined that women were most likely to use laughter and emoticons in the tweets and men were more likely to quote from religious texts. One tweet Lubna showed us was written by a 50 year old woman who was protesting the fact that she is not allowed to travel abroad to medical conferences without her young son’s permission (as her guardian).

Our Q and A included a discussion about women’s opportunities in Saudi Arabia and where such debates about women’s rights took place before Twitter. Lubna highlighted the revolutionary nature of the space Twitter has provided for Saudi men and women because it is it is accessible to them both. Before Twitter, the only place where women could debate such issues with men was within their families.

Thanks again to all who attended and especially to Lubna!

See you next week for a talk on ‘Syrian Men and the Humanitarian Response to the Refugee Crisis in Jordan’ by Lewis Turner from the Politics department at SOAS.