Saudi Arabia last week reached a major landmark in its sporting history after the country allowed women to attend a football match unaccompanied for the first time.
Women were in attendance for the Al-Ahli vs. Al-Batin game at the stadium in the capital of Riyadh on Friday, as well as for another match at venue in Jeddah the following day.
Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system states that the male family member – usually the father husband, or brother – has to give their permission for a woman to study, travel and take part in other activities.
However, the country has recently taken a number of steps to encourage greater gender equality as part of its ongoing ‘Vision 2030’ plan, which also included lifting a ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia.
Sarah Alkashgari, an 18-year-old student, made history by not only attending the football match on Friday, but working as a greeter at the event.
“It was about women finally achieving one of their demands; we wanted to enter the stadiums and we did,” Alkashgari said, according to the BBC.
“I’m a hardcore football fan. I like playing it and watching it. But I haven’t been to a football match before. This was my first one. As a Saudi woman, it was more than a match.
“It was about contributing in any way I can, even if it was as part of a 200-girl team helping to organise.”
Alkashgari shared her experience by posting a number of images of the game on her Twitter account, with on of her tweets gaining more than 14,000 likes from people around the word.
“I was surprised with the amount of support and love people have given me,” Alkashgari said. “They were supporting the women in Saudi Arabia.
“Not only can we go to matches now but, in the future, we will be able to drive. It’s so amazing to see all this empowerment for girls.
“We’re finally showing the world what true Islam means. As a young Saudi woman, I couldn’t be prouder to contribute to the change and see it happen.”