Saudi Institute Reverses Decision Allowing Women to Wear Pants

Saudi women walk out of a shopping mall as they wait for their driver to pick them up in Riyadh 14 June 2005. Saudi women hope to follow in the footsteps of counterparts in neighboring Kuwait, where women were granted full political rights and a woman minister was appointed. Saudi …
HASSAN AMMAR/AFP/Getty

Management at the World Technology Institute for Women reportedly reversed its decision to temporarily allow its female students to wear pants on condition that the girls donate two Saudi Riyals ($0.50) to a charity that helps young girls in need.

According to local reports, 300 students donated a total of some 600 Riyals through the institute.

Saudi Arabia’s educational and governmental institutions forbid female students and employees to wear pants.

Management at the institute reversed their decision, however, seemingly due to outside pressure from religious figures in the kingdom.

A notification sent to students stated that the decision was being cancelled and that students would have to return to uniform attire. The management stressed that the attire must include a long and wide skirt with a non-see-through shirt and long sleeves. The students were also invited to contact student services within 20 days to ask for their donations back.

The original decision and its reversal sparked debate on social media, with one Twitter user, Abou Ahmad, writing, “Why is there a price here for values, and a very cheap price of two Riyals. And I innocently thought that values couldn’t be bought and sold!!!”

Faesal wrote on Twitter, “Improper conduct by the institute’s management. The institute’s management should be punished. It’s required to dress conservatively and modestly and there’s no option to sell that for any amount or donation.”

Amani responded to Faesal, asking, “And why is dressing in pants considered immodest or un-conservative?!!!”

Another social media user wrote, “If there are no men, and all those around are girls, why is it forbidden (to wear pants)?”

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