Saudi Arabia, while it no doubt has other good qualities, has never been one to fast track women’s rights. In fact, until this year, Saudi didn’t send women to the Olympic games.
But all that’s changed with the inclusion this year of middle-distance runner Sarah Attar and judo fighter Wojdan Shahrkhani, who are both attending the 2012 games as the the first Saudi women ever to compete. Until now, the country has sent only men, arguing that exercising goes against women’s natural roles.
The only dark cloud on this moving forward is that Shahrkhani’s participation may still be in question, as the International Judo Federation recently decided that she couldn’t wear a hijab when competing. Considering what it took to get her there in the first place, being forced to remove her head covering could mean her opting out.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. In the meantime, hooray for progress.