Is There Feminism in Saudi Arabia?


  • Jacquelyn Lauren Hoza University of Florida



undergraduate research, Saudi Arabia, Feminism, Women's Movements


The use of the word feminism might be problematic in trying to describe women’s movement in Saudi Arabia because of historical and social factors associated with the feminist movement. Feminism is a movement that developed out of Western context and discourse, therefore it might not properly describe what is taking place in Saudi Arabia. A comparison between women’s movements in Saudi Arabia and the Western feminist movement reveals important differences. This, however, does not mean that Saudis are not preoccupied by the theme of justice as it pertains to gender issues. The aim of this research is thus to challenge the view that Saudi women have no agency and to explore the ways they seek to shape their society and challenge oppressive systems from within their own culture and worldview. This research will discuss why feminist theory may not be the ideal, and certainly not the only system that can address oppressive systems in non-Western societies, including Saudi Arabia. Additionally, this research will describe and analyze the ways in which Saudi women are working towards defining their own views of equity and creating women's movement within their society. 

Author Biography

Jacquelyn Lauren Hoza, University of Florida

Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research


Al-Dabbagh, May. “Saudi Arabian Women and Group Activism.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 11, no. 2 (2015): 235-237.

Badran, Margot. Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences. London: OneWorld Publications, 2013.

Crossman, Ashley. “Definition of Sociological Imagination and Overview of the Book.” Social Sciences, Thought Co., last modified July 28, 2017.

Elamin, Abdallah M. and Katlin Omair. “Males' attitudes towards working females in Saudi Arabia.” Personnel Review 39.6 (2010): 746 - 766.

Gonzalez, Alessandra L. Islamic Feminism in Kuwait: The Politics and Paradoxes. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Guta, Hala and Magdalena Karolak. “Veiling and Blogging: Social Media as Sites of Identity Negotiation and Expression among Saudi Women.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 16, no. 2 (2015): 115-127.

Hannam, June. Feminism. London: Routledge, 2014.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia General Authority for Statistics. “Statistical Yearbook of 2016- Chapter 02 Population.” Accessed January 21, 2018.

Le Renard, Amelie. A Society of Young Women: Opportunities of Place, Power, and Reform in Saudi Arabia. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014.

Lemoyne, James. “CONFRONTATION IN THE GULF; Army Women and the Saudis: The Encounter Shocks Both.” The New York Times, September 25, 1990. gulf-army-women-and-the-saudis-the-encounter-shocks-both.html?pagewanted=all.

Quamar, Md. Muddassir. “Sociology of the Veil in Saudi Arabia: Dress Code, Individual Choices, and Questions on Women’s Empowerment.” Digest of Middle East Studies 25.2 (2016): 315-337.

Sadat, Mirdamad Yosefy. “Globalization and International Women’s Movement.” Journal of Current Research in Science 3.6 (2015): 39-44.

Szilagyi, Annamaria. “‘I Am Different From Other Women In the World’ The Experiences of Saudi Arabian Women Studying Online in International Master Programmes.” European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning 18.1 (2015): 85-98.

Tsuruta, Dorothy Randall.“The Womanish Roots of Womanism: A Culturally-Derived and African-Centered Ideal (Concept).” The Western Journal of Black Studies 36.1 (2012): 3-10.

Welsh, Dianne H.B., Esra Memili, Eugene Kaciak, Aliyah Al Sadoon. “Saudi women entrepreneurs: A growing economic segment.” Journal of Business Research 67.5 (2014): 758-762.