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Princess Reema: It’s time to focus on Saudi women’s capabilities, not their clothes

Ns News Online DeskNs News Online Desk: LONDON: It is time for dialogue about Saudi Arabian women to move away from “clothes to capabilities,” Princess Reema bint Bandar said on Friday.
Addressing a packed audience at Chatham House in London, the president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports (SFCS) said decades of global and domestic dialogue around “conservative” dress have obstructed the real issues surrounding the emancipation of the Kingdom’s women.
“The movement of women’s rights is a ship without end. If we can move the conversation toward capabilities instead of clothes and hijabs that would be a huge win,” she said. Princess Reema also lamented “people who point fingers” at Saudi Arabia’s quest for change. “We’re serious about social progress … to point criticism in the first three months to a year of a new initiative is actually an irrational act,” she said. She added: “There is no way to appease every single naysayer. We are asking for what we want for ourselves. For example, the issue of guardianship is melting away. The women are moving out and engaging with the community in a much more inclusive and viable way — we are still trying to figure it out.” In her role as the chief of SFCS, Princess Reema said she is tasked with developing an entire sports ecosystem in the Kingdom — and that her “job is on the line” if that does not happen.
“From the staff who clean the machines, to the trainers, to the doctors, to the athletes, everything to do with sports must be included in the future planning of the country and that’s my job,” she said. Historically there has been limited focus on women’s sport in Saudi Arabia, partly due to the nation’s lack of licensed female gyms and few opportunities to exercise in open spaces. A major focus of the Saudi Vision 2030 is “creating a vibrant society with fulfilling lives” through “the promotion of physical and social well being and healthy lifestyle.”
The country aims to increase the scale of community participation in sports from 13 percent to 40 percent by 2030.

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