No Women, No Play project launched


With a concert and much fanfare, the Institute for Gulf Affairs (IGA) launched their “No Women, No Play” project in Washington, D.C. The aim of the project is to improve women’s rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) by boycotting the country from the Olympics. The IGA is a think tank that focuses on improving U.S. – Middle East relations by regularly meeting with members of the government and the media, so as to ensure that everyone is well-informed of developments in the area.

The concert took place in DuPont Circle, a major hub of activity within the district, on July 31st. The concert included performers Yvette Benjamin (aka Free) and Muneer AlAsheq. Speakers included Erin Matson, Vice President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Palestinian-American women’s rights activist, Besama Adriana Alghussein.

According to a recent press release on the IGA’s website, the program was created to put pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to enforce their charter.  The IOC is specifically mandated to “act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement,” and to “encourage and support the promotion of women…with a view to implementing the principle of of equality between men and women.”

The logic behind the project is straightforward. Currently, though women have separate athletic facilities within the country, the KSA bars them from participating in the Olympics. The KSA’s practice is a direct violation of the principles which created the Olympic movement. As specifically stated with the Olympic Charter:

The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind…any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on the grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement. Pg 11

The charter also explains that any member country must abide by the charter. Furthermore, the IOC is “supreme authority” of the Olympic Movement and is thus charged to enforce the charter. Any decision made by the IOC is considered binding and must be followed.

Essentially, the project is relating the KSA’s practice to South Africa’s race apartheid. The comparison being if South Africa was banned until they stopped discriminating against blacks, then KSA should be banned until they stop discriminating against women.

For more information on this project, please visit the IGA’s website which is http://www.gulfinstitute.org. Email questions and comments directly to nowomennoplay@gulfinstitute.org or rachel@gulfinstitute.org. Updates are sent to Twitter and Facebook as well.

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