Saudi female MP calls for accelerated steps to empower women

Hanan al-Ahmad said bureaucracy is to blame for the slow reform process

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A Saudi female lawmaker on Tuesday criticized what she said was slowness of the Justice Ministry to implement previously declared reforms to empower women.

“When it comes to women, the progress needs to be accelerated because there are many projects that the Justice Ministry has introduced to empower women but has been very slow in implementing them," Hanan al-Ahmadi, a member of the Saudi Shura Council, told Al Arabiya News Channel.

She said the ministry has made several announcements, such as the formation of departments specialized in women's issues related to divorce, alimony and child custody.

"Announcing these services on the media is not enough. There needs to be a strong will for these services to see light,” Ahmadi said.

She said bureaucracy is first to blame for not speeding up the reform process.

“There is a lot of bureaucracy and the priorities are established in a different manner. We in the Shura Council hope that women's issues are prioritized by the Justice Ministry,” Ahmadi added

She said one of the major obstacles women still face in courts is related to identification.

A woman's identity card is not always accepted and a witness is often required to affirm the woman’s identify.

Ahmadi praised, however, some major steps recently taken by the Justice Ministry to empower women, such as granting them permission to work as lawyers.

She said female members of the Shura Council will be pushing for increased reforms to improve women rights in the kingdom.

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