The Rising Tide of Change: Saudi Arabian Women in Dispute Resolution - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 73, No. 2
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
At the end of 2017, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that it would allow women to drive starting in June 2018. The typical portrait of a Saudi woman is a person who is raised in a conservative home, covered in a hijab, and made to follow the rules laid down and supervised by the men in her life. These stereotypes are not untrue, but have become less so over time because the Kingdom has slowly begun to allow women to enjoy many of the freedoms that were once exclusively reserved to men. These freedoms are privileges that previous generations of women would not have dreamt of, but the current generation is experiencing and benefiting from.
This positive progress has affected women within the legal profession. During the past few decades, more women have been provided opportunities to obtain secondary, as well as higher education in Saudi Arabia, although the extent of the progress made is still being affected by conservatives who do not want the country to undergo a change that empowers women. Despite the pushback, Saudi women have continued to make important contributions to the development of the practice of law and also have enjoyed an expanded role in the evolution and practice of arbitration, mediation and negotiation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
I. EFFECT OF CONSERVATIVE INTERPRETATION OF THE HOLY QURAN
The principles governing the practice of Islam are derived from four sources: (a) the Quran (Islamic sacred book), (b) Sunna (teachings and actions of the Prophet Mohammed), (c) Qiyas (analogical reasoning that compares Hadith teachings with the Quran) and (d) Al Ijma (consensus among religious scholars on Islamic issues.) The Holy Quran and its teachings are not just a basis for the Muslim religion but also dictate the way a good Muslim should live. The Quran has frequently been interpreted in ways that have placed women in subservient roles for many decades.