Copyright © 2003-2011, Aishah Schwartz. Permission granted to circulate among private individuals, groups, or in not-for-profit publications in full text and subject title. All other rights reserved.

July 04, 2010

THE SAUDI ARABIA CHRONICLES: Aishah Schwartz on the Women's Rights Movement in Saudi Arabia

Aishah Schwartz found herself fascinated with Saudi Arabia during a one-year stay in the Kingdom, a period which she chronicled heavily through a series of autobiographical "journey's", posted on her personal website.

As a result of her experiences in Saudi Arabia, Ms. Schwartz was later prompted to lend her support to the women's rights movement, spearheaded by Saudi women journalists, writers, human rights advocates, and scholars, such as Hatoon Al Fassi, Maha Akeel, Nimah Nawwab, Reem Asaad, Thuraya Arrayed, and Wajeha Al-Huwaider.

The first project Ms. Schwartz embarked upon supporting was spurred by news in the autum of 2006, of a proposal among officials within the Kingdom to remove a women's prayer space within the courtyard of the Grand Mosque in Mecca (in view of the Kaba). The proposal alarmed Ms. Schwartz, who subsequently set-out over a three-day period to develop a website, poster, online petition and press release (issued through Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA), organized in January 2006), in support of an international campaign to ensure reversal of the proposal.

The Saudi Gazette announced, "Chorus Gets Louder", as news of MWA'S support toward ensuring a reversal of the proposal to remove the women's prayer space spread. The online petition swiftly gained nearly 2,000 signatures and Margot Badran, a Senior Fellow at the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., described the unified voice of Muslim women in Al-Ahram Weekly (a publication in Egypt) as, "the most striking example to date of concerted Islamic feminist global protest and one that authorities could not ignore." Within eleven days of the international outcry in opposition to removal of the prayer space, officials within the Kingdom announced that the prayer space would remain; as it does to this very day. Al-hamdulillah.

Muslimah Writers Alliance Director Welcomes News of Saudi Reversal to Eliminate Women's Prayer Area

Activist Aishah Schwartz on Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia

Will Forced Divorces Become Rule-of-the-Day in Saudi Arabia?

Muslimah Writers Alliance Joins Coalition of Activists Seeking Preservation of Women's Prayer Area at Mecca's Grand Mosque

Muslimah Writers Alliance Grand Mosque Equal Access for Women Project Online Petition


GMEA4W Website

A few short months later, in February 2007, Ms. Schwartz lent her organization's support to the Saudi women's guardianship reform campaign upon hearing news of the now settled forced divorce case of Fatima Azazz and Mansour Al-Timani; reunited after a prolongated media campaign and court battle.

An online petition continuing the call for Guardianship Reform in the Kingdom remains live to this day.

Ms. Schwartz also wrote an article in 2007 adding to her contribution on the women's rights movement in Saudi Arabia, published at Naseeb Vibes titled, "To Advocate or Abdicate: Muslimah Writers Alliance Stands in Defense of Islam."

In 2008 Ms. Schwartz's contribution to the women's guardianship reform campaign of Saudi Arabia was cited in a report issued by Human Rights Watch titled, "Perpetual Minors: Human Rights Abuses Stemming from Male Guardianship and Sex Segregation in Saudi Arabia".

In 2010 the campaign for guardianship reform, in conjunction with the rights of foreign nationals, continued as news broke of a pending June 29 visit by King Abdullah to the White House. Ms. Schwartz again lent MWA's support, to demonstrations that took place in front of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., and in front of the White House, in association with the Comit'e de Soutien 'a Nathalie Morin,' of Canada, Muslims for Progressive Values and Responsible for Equality, and Liberty (R.E.A.L.), based in Washington, D.C.

"The women of Saudi Arabia continue in pursuit of much needed reform in the Kingdom's existing guardianship laws," stated Ms. Schwartz.

"Many people confuse reform with abolishment; the movement is not to dissolve guardianship, it is merely to improve the conditions of women suffering from uneven-handedness and to provide alternative recourse for those not benefiting from the protections that the law is intended to provide," Ms. Schwartz added.   

MWA Joins Call to Action in Support of Saudi Guardianship Reform and Release of Nathalie Morin


Human Rights Watch Cites MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz in Report on Saudi Arabia

MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz Welcomes Saudi Reversal in Al-Timani Forced Divorce Case

Muslimah Writers Alliance Petition Exceeds 1,000 Signatures in Support of Guardianship Reform in Saudi Arabia

Muslimah Writers Alliance Joins Al-Timani Attorney and Saudi Women Activists in Petitioning for Reversal of Forced Divorce

Muslimah Writers Alliance Petitions King Abdullah to Stop Forced Divorces

Forced Divorce Case Info

Muslimah Writers Alliance Forced Divorce Case Chronological Media Log (latter updates not added)

Spotted on the web: 
Click on image to view full size. Published June 2011.
In June 2012 Ms. Schwartz joined Saudi women in support of their ongoing campaign to win the right to become licensed drivers in promoting the Women2Drive campaign's 1-year anniversary commemorative event.

Watch the video:






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  5. One of the Saudi Arabia's business etiquettes is that meetings are generally not private until after a relationship of trust has been developed. This means you may expect frequent interruptions. Others may wander into the room and start a different discussion. You may join in, but do not try to bring the topic back to the original discussion until the new person leaves.

  6. Always supporting those who supprot womens rights from all your friends at yours Tom Thumb and friends.Thank you.