Saudi Arabia is planning to grant female lawyers partial access to courtrooms. A proposed law, which will be drafted in the near future, will allow women to represent women in cases involving marriage, divorce, or custody of minor children.
Currently, female lawyers living in Saudi Arabia can work only in offices, and are not allowed to argue cases in court. Women in the country are allowed to work or learn only with permission from a male guardian.
The plan to increase women's access to court was announced less than a week after a Saudi reformer told American media that empowering women in Saudi Arabia is the key to spreading democracy throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
"Democratizing Saudi Arabia is the key to democratizing all Arabs and Muslims,” Dr. Ali Alyami of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia told a writer for the news blog network Pajamas Media. “The best, easiest, cheapest and quickest way to achieve this formidable undertaking is to empower Saudi women... Empowering Saudi women will resonate throughout Arab and Muslim societies.”
Many Saudi women are already challenging oppression in their country, Alyami said. Saudi women “are among the most marginalized people on this planet,” he said, but are “the most resilient people I know.”