The status of things for women in Saudi Arabia has seen major improvements in recent years and more so in recent months ... and the changes haven't gone unnoticed.
On Sunday, the Saudi city of Riyadh was announced as the capital of Arab women for 2020 under the slogan "women are a homeland and an ambition." The city's winning nomination was made by The Arab Women Committee during its 39th session which was held in Riyadh on Monday.
Dr. Hala bint Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri, the secretary-general of the kingdom's Family Affairs Council welcomed the news, saying it was well deserved given the country's "continued support" for the empowerment of women.
The official added that the kingdom's presidency of the G20 and subsequent meetings "confirm the international role" it plays on all levels.
Chaired by Saudi Arabia, The Arab Women Committee's sessions opened on Sunday and featured discussions covering a number of issues. Much of the conversation centered on women empowerment in the Arab world and followed up on "the recommendations of the Ministerial Conference that focused on women's empowerment and its impact on social development."
The meeting also included discussions on sustainable development and mechanisms for cooperation with relevant international organizations.
Women in the kingdom are making leaps but more needs to be done
Naming Riyadh as the capital for Arab women comes at a historic time for women in the kingdom. In the past few years, Saudi women won their right to drive and managed to overturn several parts of the kingdom's male guardianship system.
However, the male-centric system continues to be implemented in Saudi Arabia, under which a woman's life is dictated by a male guardian who's usually a father, uncle, brother, or husband.
Activists in the country believe the abolishment of the system is the only way through which Saudi women can finally be granted all their rights.
Some have also criticized Riyadh's selection as the "capital of Arab women," saying the city shouldn't hold such a title because it continues to imprison several female activists who were pivotal in the fight against the women's driving ban.
However, others argued that the kingdom deserves the feat given that it has made significant strides when it comes to women's rights.