Washington DC – Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world without a national women’s football team, because the Saudi government bans sports for women. There are no physical education classes in girls’ public or private schools, and there are few women’s health clubs or gyms, greatly limiting the chance for daily exercise for the country’s 10 million women.
The ban on women’s sports is not only an act of gender discrimination, but it also violates the women’s right to lead healthy lives. As the Institute for Gulf Affairs reported in the release Killing Them Softly, the sedentary lifestyle forced upon Saudi women by their government carries the risks of obesity, a higher likelihood of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, vitamin D deficiency and osteoporosis, among many ailments. If unchecked, these health issues can pose a threat to the expectancy and quality of life. The ban also denies women the opportunity to express themselves through physical exercise, which could benefit their sense of self physically, emotionally and mentally.
FIFA must stand against Saudi ban.
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