Wajeha Al-Huwaider, Saudi Arabia
Journalist, Poet, Co-founder of the Association for the Protection and Defense of Women's Rights
Issues: Women's rights and gender equality
Wajeha Al-Huwaider is a Saudi writer and women's rights activist. She has launched several campaigns to improve women's status in Saudi Arabia, and has been arrested for initiating a solo demonstration in which she carried a sign saying "Give women their rights." She had been banned from writing since 2003. She was also banned from traveling to encourage women to protest the male guardianship law, which treats women as captives.In 2004, she received the NOVEB Prize for freedom of speech. Georgetown University named her as one of the 500 most influential Muslims.In 2007, and she was one of the people named by the Wall Street Journal in a piece about people who should have gotten the Nobel Prize. The Arabian Business Magazine listed her as one of the 100th most powerful Arab women. In March, 2011, her name was in the Newsweek list of the 150 women who shake the world. She is the co-founder of the Society for Defending Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia, and published an article in the Washington Post in August 2009: "Saudi Women Can Drive. Just Let Them."
How she delivers for women: In Saudi Arabia, where women cannot legally drive or even enter most public spaces without a male guardian, Al-Huwaider is an outspoken journalist, poet, and activist for women's rights. In 2003, she was banned from publishing her work in most Saudi papers, but has continued to write online. She launched a series of "video campaigns," circulated online, to decry practices like child marriage, polygamy, and the nation's guardianship laws, which prevent women from traveling, studying, marrying or seeking healthcare without male permission. In 2008, she filmed herself driving, and the video attracted over 200,000 views on Youtube and sparked international calls for Saudi Arabia to lift its ban on women driving; the ban remains in place. Despite intense pressure from the Saudi government including arrests and interrogations, Al-Huwaider remains a vehement voice for women's rights in Saudi Arabia.