Road Warriors: A Case Study of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia

Peter Grønbech

Studenteropgave: Bachelorprojekt


Women’s rights have been a much discussed subject throughout the history of Saudi Arabia. The Wahhabist interpretation of Islam is fundamental to understanding the Saudi state, society and the restrictions imposed upon the women today. In 2015, women gained the right to vote, yet, they still face punishments if they sit behind the wheel of a car. As such, this project studies how the Saudi state project and Saudi women’s rights are connected. In order to assess women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, we apply a multilayer case study approach, in which the national, societal and individual will act as the layers where we examine the factors that impact on women’s rights. In order to analyse the problems and conflicts associated with women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, a theoretical framework consisting of human and women’s rights and feminism is devised, and discussed in relation to Saudi understanding of those concepts. In extension of feminism, the particular the concepts of patriarchy and sphere, will be applied to the analysis. The analysis is divided into three sections, each denote to a specific layer of in Saudi Arabia. The first section analyzes the Saudi state, emphasising Sharia law, the legal system as well as the influence of religion upon the decision making processes within the state. The second section looks upon the Saudi society in regards to how restrictions imposed on women is practiced and justified. Lastly, the third section focuses specifically on the driving ban on women, namely through the female activist fronted Women2drive movement. The surrounding factors of the driving ban will be examined, such as the problems that the driving ban poses for women and the support and opposition for ending the ban. Through our research we conclude that women, and their rights, are made to be the symbols within the Saudi society, which meaning changes in accordance to specific national ambitions. This is in part due to the relationship between the state and the ulama in Saudi Arabia. At the same time it is clear that the women in Saudi Arabia are not just ‘victims’ of these ambitions and discourses, but rather play an active role in advocating and claiming their rights. Although their agency is overshadowed by the state, they continuously challenge the implementation of traditional religious influence in society. In the end, the issue of inequality in Saudi Arabia is a social issue rather than a religious one, and the progress and changes that occur presently in Saudi Arabia are still based on a patriarchal and religious framework.

UddannelserGeografi, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor
Udgivelsesdato25 maj 2016
Antal sider52
VejledereJohan Fischer