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Saudia Arabia To Build Women-Only City

Saudia Arabia To Build Women-Only City | Geography Education |
In a bid to reconcile strict gender-segregation laws with a desire to increase employment opportunities for women, Saudi Arabia is planning to construct a new industrial "city" exclusively for female workers, Russian news agency RT reports.


The idea is mind-blowing to say the least.  More women would be able to be a part of the workforce and move freely about women-only cities in Saudi Arabia than they could in 'regular' cities. 

Question to ponder: would the implementation of this idea represent a cultural step forward for Saudi Arabia towards gender equality or would it be a step that further isolated women and is repressive?  What do you think of the idea given the ingrained gender norms of Saudi Arabia? 

Shanelle Zaino's curator insight, October 29, 2014 4:30 PM

UPDATE on 8/15/2012 at 3:20 pm ET: Al Arabiya English reported on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia is not building a women-only industrial city.Contrary to reports by the Guardian, ABC News, and the Russian news agency RT, among others, Al Arabiya English writes that the new municipality will be open to both men and women.-Huffington Post


I am very happy to know that this city was not created. I do believe that it would have been nice to have women able to come and go as they please in Saudi Arabia (without the accompanying of a man) ,however I do not feel that this was the answer. I believe a city like this might only further the divide of genders. I understand different cultures have different beliefs however when the cost is the suppression of another living thing then there is an issue.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 16, 2014 2:32 AM

Like many the topic of this article can be taken two ways. First that this is a good thing as it will allow for a place for the oppressed women of Saudi Arabia to act as they wish without the gaze and guidance of men. Giving them a sense of freedom rarely found in their country. On the other hand what this does is by placing them within their own city it further marginalizes women by pushing them into their own receptive roles and accepted locations. This could very well further drive home the idea women don't quite belong in this "Man's" country.  

Kendra King's curator insight, February 27, 1:09 AM

I can see how this might sound appealing, but this isn't the right solution. On the one hand, the women would be able to enter the work force more so as to close the disparity between women who are unemployed. That gap is actually huge since the article mentioned the number of Saudi women who work is somewhere in the low teens despite the fact that "60%" of college graduates are women. At the same time, this environment might prove to be more freeing for women in regards to their movement as well. As the article mentioned women always have to be "accompanied by a male," which is just ridiculously restricting.


Yet all of these benefits come at the price of isolation. That whole "separate, but equal" thing played out in the US and it wasn't actually equality. Nor did it actually make for a harmonious environment. In order to actually change people's minds, the government can't just push the women workers out of site in a corner.Without men being around women workers, they will continue to treat them poorly as second class citizens. Furthermore,separating them almost makes it seem like they are second class thereby exacerbating the gender norms within the country even more. 

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