This article was originally published on May 3, 2017 in Ricochet.
The UN has once again managed to dumbfound the world: last week the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was elected to the organization’s Commission on the Status of Women. In Canada, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel led the parade of outraged politicians – and rightfully so. With its laws circumscribing the rights of its women, Saudi Arabia is in no position to lead a UN organization “dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.”
The rights of Saudi women are inevitably subordinated to the men in their lives. Among other things, Saudi men have dominant rights in regards to marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance. Under Saudi Arabia’s guardianship laws, women cannot seek higher education, take a job or travel without permission from their male guardian. Read Ensaf Haidar’s biography Raif Badawi, The Voice of Freedom for a vivid example of how such laws engender hopelessness, depression and fear among the Kingdom’s women. Suffice it to say that Saudi Arabia is not in a position to promote women’s rights or shape global standards on gender equality, as the Commission intends.