Saudi Arabia is poised to assume the chairmanship of the Women’s Rights Commission: The UN Women’s Rights Commission is tasked with promoting gender equality and helping to establish global standards for gender equity, as reported by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Saudi Arabia will soon assume the chairmanship of the Women’s Rights Commission. Specifically, Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed al-Wasil, the kingdom’s ambassador to the United Nations, will hold this position. According to the SZ, Saudi Arabia has lobbied extensively to ascend to the top position, and there has been no opposition from other member states of the commission.

The country’s admission to the commission as a member in 2022 had already sparked strong reactions. Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, commented, “Saudi Arabia’s election to lead the UN Women’s Rights Commission demonstrates a shocking disregard for women’s rights everywhere.” A country where women are imprisoned for advocating for their rights should not be the face of the most important UN body for gender equality. Amnesty International stated, “Saudi Arabia has an abysmal record when it comes to protecting and promoting women’s rights.” The kingdom must now demonstrate that winning the chairmanship of the commission does not equate to winning the fight for equality—it must abolish laws that discriminate against women.

In Saudi Arabia, numerous laws and structures disadvantage women significantly. Marital rape is not punished, and many women remain under the guardianship of their fathers until marriage. Although women can officially file for divorce, court reports indicate that divorces are often not accepted. It has only been a few years since women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to drive or travel abroad without male permission.