There is a lot of publicity about the Muslim women who are competing for the last remaining countries to have women in their teams. Much of the publicity is positive, of course. But there are also views that those countries are behaving unacceptably by making it so hard for those women, and it would have been better to ban the countries, or at least not accept the restrictions imposed on those women.
- The bravest women at the Games: Muslim athletes who battled to get to London – and for whom the taking part really does mean more than the winning
This is always a dilemma: do we insist that such countries do things properly or not at all? Do we risk that they will permit “token” women to take part just so that the men can continue, without any prospect that things will improve for women as a whole?
(By “token” I am not criticising these women. I am criticising the limited opportunities available to just a few women, while suppressing the human rights of the vast majority of the women in the populations).
I expressed a view in my post The war for enlightenment:
We are engaged in a war for enlightenment, being fought over generations.
This war is being fought across generations, with several different “battles”: “god versus no god?”; “religion – good or bad?”; “science – right or wrong?”; “where should we find our ethics/morals?”; “how should we govern?”
For each battle, we need to advance where we can, and at least hold ground where we can’t advance.
The judgment will be made in a decade or two, not a year or two. These women have opened the door a little. We need to try to ensure that others will follow. The ultra-conservatives in those countries (unfortunately, there are lots of them) will eventually die. But the new generations should remember these women – they have set a precedent.