Princess backs Saudi women journalists
Riyadh, February 6, 2008
A Saudi princess has offered annual prizes and scholarships worth $270,000 to boost female journalists in a country where women are subjected to a host of restrictions.
The goal is 'to encourage Saudi women to work in journalism and help them develop their professional skills through training and practice,' an AFP report quoted Princess Hassa bint Salman as saying.
Hassa, daughter of Riyadh governor Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a half-brother of King Abdullah, said she would allocate $160,000 a year for scholarships for study and training in a specialised centre which will launch a special section for women.
Prize money of $54,000 will be awarded every year to women journalists whose careers span more than 15 years.
Two prizes of $27,000 each will be awarded for the best journalistic work of the year and for a woman journalist who has distinguished herself, the British-educated princess said.
'Women journalists are best placed to promote cultural communication between men and women in Saudi society in a manner compatible with sharia (Islamic law) and moderate social norms,' she said.
She said her initiative was aimed at making up for the absence of women's journalism departments in Saudi universities and training institutes for women, and noted that some Saudi female journalists had 'excelled despite working in difficult social and professional conditions.'
Women in Saudi Arabia, which applies a rigorous doctrine of Islam known as Wahhabism, face a host of constraints, including a ban on driving. They are forced to cover from head to toe in public, and cannot mix with men other than relatives or travel without written permission from their male guardian.