The Secret Revolution - Women in Saudi Arabia | Documentary & Report: Watch DW-videos online for free | DW | 17.10.2016
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Documentary & Report

The Secret Revolution - Women in Saudi Arabia

They can’t leave the house without being clothed from head to toe or drive a car, and they need the permission of a male guardian before they can either work or travel. But behind the veil, their anger is growing.


Rasha Hefzi works as a city councilor.

A new generation of women in Saudi Arabia is slowly bringing change to the strictly pious kingdom. More and more women in Saudi Arabia are taking up professions with a new self-confidence. Rasha Hefzi, for example, lives in Jeddah, where she was elected to the city council in December 2015. It was the country’s first ever election where women could both vote and stand as candidates themselves. At her first city council meeting, her conservative male colleagues refused to sit in the same room with her and tried to banish her behind a wall. But Rasha stood her ground. “They think they are protecting women by excluding us, keeping us away from their world, cocooning us and subordinating us to a male guardian, but this is not protection - this is a siege.”

Om Saif is a young woman who took over a traditional bakery in the old town of Jeddah. Pulling the veil up to her eyes, she gives instructions to her employees and stands behind the counter herself – which is a serious sin for many Saudis. But she said to herself, "Do not fear, tear the fear out of your head!" and has held onto her passion for her work. She wants her example to encourage other women.

DW Doku Die heimliche Revolution

Sofana Dahlan is one of the few female lawyers in Saudi Arabia

Women like Rahsa Hefzi and Om Saif are part of a new generation of Saudis who want to be able to look at their homeland critically and are no longer willing to be the subjects of a repressive absolutist kingdom. Self-assured, they join forces, start up companies, realize projects and develop ideas for the innovations their society needs for the future – be it in business, politics, the media or the social sphere.

The two filmmakers Gabriele Riedle and Carmen Butta spent several weeks in the desert kingdom and met some extraordinary women. Shrewd, diplomatic and persistent, their aim is to change the future for all women in their country.

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