No room for girls at a ‘women’s conference’ in Saudi: Is this ridiculous spectacle real?
A picture of a conference in Saudi Arabia on ‘women in society’ – attended by men only – has gone viral. As absurd as it sounds, it reminds Louisa Peacock of a typical UK business conference.
12:08PM BST 27 Jun 2013 | The Telegraph
Ha ha. It’s a good gag by whoever’s come up with it – a room full of Saudi Arabian men supposedly coming together to talk about ‘women in society’. Without any women present.
No wonder the picture’s currently doing the rounds on Twitter – both men and women are laughing at the absurdity and hypocrisy of it.
And yet, is it really that absurd? We don’t actually know if the photo is real. But this is a country where women are not allowed to drive, women cannot vote or be elected to high political positions – oh, and stoning them to death if they try to leave their husbands is still OK.
It’s not too hard to make the leap, then, that Saudi Arabia would seriously, actually, run a conference about ‘what to do with all these women’ – those who are rising up, who are starting to disobey the ‘norms’. Post the Arab spring and this ‘new world’ of politics – it’s possible women may want a change in culture in the Middle East. And the men don’t like it.
Regardless, even if it is just a picture of any old get together – to talk about business or politics – it still screams alarm bells at you: the fact that no women are present is telling.
Perhaps it was, literally, a man’s only event and the originator of this gag is just making a point.
Come to think of it, his or her point is well heard. I have been to many a business conference in the UK over the years that may as well be men-only: a sea of grey suits and balding, middle aged men doesn’t help to inspire the new generation, especially women, into industry.
If it seems absurd that Saudi Arabia would host a male-only event excluding women, perhaps it is just an exaggerated version of what goes on in the Western world?
But before the UK Government is tempted to launch an Inquiry into said problem, let’s just enjoy this photo for what I believe it is: a good gag.