Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others. Human Rights Watch collaborates with these courageous activists to create a world in which people live free of violence, discrimination, and oppression.
Hala Al-Dosari is a Saudi human rights activist, scholar, and writer who is best known for speaking out against the country’s deeply entrenched discrimination against women and girls. Her leadership on women’s rights issues in Saudi Arabia has pushed policymakers to address women’s right to drive; the country’s draconian male guardianship system and restrictive family laws; gender-based violence; and the right of activists – including women – to speak, protest, and write freely.
In 2013, Al-Dosari joined leading local activists in organizing the October 26 Driving Campaign, and joined others who drove on the streets of Saudi Arabia to protest the ban on women driving. The campaign inspired leaders of the women’s movement to use innovative, online advocacy models for later campaigns, such as a move to revoke the government requirements for a male guardian’s approval for a woman to access her basic rights, whether for official documents, travel, education, work, release from prison, or other rights.
Through a diverse career in media, health, and research, Al-Dosari has built a network of significant community leaders to improve support for women facing violence and gender discrimination. Her advocacy and coalition-building draws from her own scholarly research on violence against women in Saudi Arabia and the challenges women experience in trying to access resources. Al-Dosari’s writings on women’s rights in Saudi Arabia appear regularly in local and international media.
Despite Saudi Arabia’s massive crackdown on activists in recent years, Al-Dosari has continued her advocacy, providing detailed and reliable information and assistance to international human rights organizations.
Human Rights Watch honors Hala Al-Dosari for her tireless advocacy to end discrimination against women and girls and gender-based violence in Saudi Arabia and beyond.
Saudi Arabia: ‘Unofficial’ Guardianship Rules Banned
Saudi Arabia: Women Are ‘Changing the Game’
Boxed In: Women and Saudi Arabia’s Male Guardianship System
World Report 2018