The Changing Face of Saudi Women: addario_11

Sheikha, 42, a single mother of five girls, prays with her daughter at home after work in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 2015.  Sheikha works at Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women in Riyadh; she has two daughters of her own, and three daughters from her sister. She works as a cleaner at Al-Nahda, and the house was given to her by the foundation. She explains, “You cannot stop progress. Once the progress starts, it is very difficult to stop it. King Abdullah was the biggest helper for women and this progress. It was like we were all asleep, and he was like, “wake up, wake up, lets all do this together.” Allah created us as equals. We have different roles, it does not mean we are not equal. …I am not a baby-making machine, or a vacuum cleaner, or someone who says yes, sir, or no, sir. Once all my kids graduate from school, I want to go back and get my high school certificate. I was 16 when I got married, and 21 when I had my first baby. I don’t have plans to marry again. I have everything I need: I have my work, I have my girls, my house. What do I need a man for? So he can come and eat and sleep on my dime? Everyone says you need a male guardian to go to the market, to sit in a taxi. Why do they say this? My guardian is my God. Who is better than that?”

Sheikha, 42, a single mother of five girls, prays with her daughter at home after work in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 2015. Sheikha works at Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women in Riyadh; she has two daughters of her own, and three daughters from her sister. She works as a cleaner at Al-Nahda, and the house was given to her by the foundation. She explains, “You cannot stop progress. Once the progress starts, it is very difficult to stop it. King Abdullah was the biggest helper for women and this progress. It was like we were all asleep, and he was like, “wake up, wake up, lets all do this together.” Allah created us as equals. We have different roles, it does not mean we are not equal. …I am not a baby-making machine, or a vacuum cleaner, or someone who says yes, sir, or no, sir. Once all my kids graduate from school, I want to go back and get my high school certificate. I was 16 when I got married, and 21 when I had my first baby. I don’t have plans to marry again. I have everything I need: I have my work, I have my girls, my house. What do I need a man for? So he can come and eat and sleep on my dime? Everyone says you need a male guardian to go to the market, to sit in a taxi. Why do they say this? My guardian is my God. Who is better than that?”