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Girls & Women

This Photo of Saudi Arabia’s First Girls Council Is Missing Something

First, the good news: Saudi Arabia launched its first-ever girls council this year in al-Qassim province to improve opportunities for girls there, marking a major step forward for the conservative Saudi government.

Now, the bad news: the girls council was missing one important thing on it — a woman.

That’s right. Pictures that were released from an event celebrating the launch of the Qassim Girls Council showed 13 men on stage, while women were apparently in a different room watching via video, according to the BBC.

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The council was launched by Saudi Prince Faisal bin Mishal bin Saud in order to elevate opportunities and the voices of girls in the region, and the prince’s wife, Princess Abir bint Salman, serves as the chair of the council.

Yet the princess did not appear in any of the photos.

"In the Qassim region, we look at women as sisters to men, and we feel a responsibility to open up more and more opportunities that will serve the work of women and girls," the prince said.

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The photos released from the event were widely mocked on social media for the lack of female representation.

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Saudi Arabia has taken some recent steps to improve women’s participation in the workforce and civil society, announcing plans to increase both by 2030, but the country is still very conservative on women’s rights. Women are still not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, though they did vote in local elections for the first time last year.

Saudi women are also banned from leaving the home without a male escort and cannot open a bank account without their husband’s permission.

So, while the girls council is a great step forward for the women of Qassim, Global Citizen and the rest of the internet have one small suggestion for the prince: please let them appear on stage, too.