Denial of Women’s and Girls’ Rights to Sport in Saudi Arabia
This report documents discrimination by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education in denying girls physical education in state schools, as well as discriminatory practices by the General Presidency for Youth Welfare, a youth and sports ministry, in licensing women’s gyms and supporting only all-male sports clubs. The National Olympic Committee of Saudi Arabia also has no programs for women athletes and has not fielded women in past Olympic Games.In its interviews with Saudi women and international sporting officials, the report found that Saudi government restrictions put athletics beyond the reach of almost all women. There is no government sports infrastructure for women, with all designated buildings, sport clubs, courses, expert trainers, and referees limited exclusively to men. The ban on women’s private, for-fee sports clubs has forced women to restrict themselves to fitness gyms that rarely feature swimming pools, a running track, or playing fields for team sports. Membership fees there are beyond the means of many ordinary Saudi women and girls. Official sporting bodies hold no competitive sports for Saudi women athletes in the kingdom and do not support Saudi sportswomen in regional or international competitions.