They donned sports-friendly abayas and hijabs, while they jogged around Jeddah’s historic district, as a part of an event organised by Bliss Runners, Saudi Arabia’s women running club. Bliss Runners also shared some moments from the event on their Instagram handle.
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After the lifting of restrictions, Saudi women have begun taking physical activity to the public sphere.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia organised its first-ever women’s run, marking a historical moment for its women in the local sports sector. More than 1,500 women had participated in the event. Also, Saudi officials have announced last month that women would be able to participate in the Riyadh International Marathon next year. Prior to this, women were not allowed to participate in any marathon or other running events.
Saudi Arabia also held its first-ever women’s basketball tournament recently and will soon be hosting a women’s football tournament. The kingdom country, which was the only one to not send female athletes to the Olympics, made international headlines recently when it saw the participation of two women in the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
In the London Olympics, Sarah Attar became the first female track athlete to represent Saudi Arabia, when she competed in the 800-metre race. Last year, Saudi Arabia celebrated Women’s Day, where a three-day event was held at the King Fahd Cultural Center in the capital Riyadh to commemorate the occasion.
In recent years, the kingdom country has amended a number of laws in an effort to empower women such as allowing female candidates to participate in the municipal elections and making women’s verbal consent to marriage mandatory.
Saudi Arabia, which was the only country to not allow women to drive, lifted its ban in September last year, ending the long-standing policy that has been heavily criticised by many across the world since 1990.
In July 2017, Saudi Arabia introduced physical education for girls enrolled in schools and began granting licenses for running women’s gyms in the country, thereby giving the women an opportunity to exercise in public. Despite the recent reforms on women’s freedom in the kingdom, a number of measures still remains to be addressed.
Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system, which subjects women to full dependence on their male counterparts (fathers, brothers, husbands, sons), in nearly all aspects of public life, has received criticism over the years as it is considered a “hindrance” to women’s liberty.
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