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You Say You Want A Revolution: Saudi Arabia

You Say You Want A Revolution: Saudi Arabia

Rahaf al-Qunun, an 18-year-old Saudi woman, boarded a plane this week in Kuwait in hopes of reaching Australia. On arriving in Bangkok, where she intended to change planes, she says she was greeted by a Saudi official who seized her passport. (Saudi officials deny this.)


Thai officials tried to persuade her to board a return flight, but the young woman explained she had renounced Islam and would be killed if she went home. Thai officials then assured her she would not be forced to leave. On Wednesday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees referred her to Australia to be considered for refugee resettlement.

This episode has refocused global attention on gender politics in Saudi Arabia. Much has been made of last year's decision to allow women in the kingdom to drive. Beginning this weekend, female citizens also have the right to know if their husband has divorced them—courts will be required to inform women via text that their husband has made other marital plans.

But if you're a female Saudi citizen, you still can't legally open a bank account without permission from a male guardian. Or apply for a passport. Even if you have a passport, male approval is required for travel abroad. You can't get married, open certain types of businesses, or have elective surgery. That all-important guardian can be your father, husband, brother, or son.

This brings us back to Rahaf al-Qunun. It was not the Saudi government or police that threatened her, she told Thai authorities. It's her family. "My life is in danger. My family threatens to kill me for the most trivial things," she told Reuters.

The bottom-line: Changing the law is one thing, and changing culture is another. By launching reforms that give Saudi women new freedoms, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's social reforms will ignite a million small revolutions behind closed doors. Because your father, husband, brother, or son may not want you to have the things your government (finally) says you're entitled to.

President and CEO of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, comes to 'That Made All the Difference' podcast to discuss his time as mayor of New Orleans, today's challenges, and what it will take to build a more just, equitable and inclusive society.

Listen now.

Though celebrations will surely be more subdued this year, many Germans will still gather (virtually) on October 3 to celebrate thirty years since reunification.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall — and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union — Germany reunited in a process whereby the much wealthier West absorbed the East, with the aim of expanding individual freedoms and economic equality to all Germans.

But thirty years later, this project has — to a large extent — been difficult to pull off. The economic and quality of life gap is shrinking, but lingering inequality continues to impact both German society and politics.

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GZERO Media, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, today hosted its second virtual town hall on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges of its distribution.

The panel was moderated by New York Times science and health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli and featured Gates Foundation's Deputy Director of Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Lynda Stuart; Eurasia Group's Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director of Energy, Climate & Resources; Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman; and Gayle E. Smith, the president & CEO of ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Watch the full video above.

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Donald Trump's presidency has irked a lot of people around the world. And in fairness, that's no surprise. He was elected in part to blow up long-standing assumptions about how international politics, trade, and diplomatic relations are supposed to work.

But while he has correctly identified some big challenges — adapting NATO to the 21st century, managing a more assertive China, or ending America's endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — his impulsive style, along with his restrictions on trade and immigration, have alienated many world leaders. Global polls show that favorable views of the US have plummeted to all-time lows in many countries, particularly among traditional American allies in Europe.

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Watch: Tolu Olubunmi in conversation with Dr. Samira Asma from the World Health Organization on how they are advancing health data innovation in the age of COVID-19.

This content is brought to you by our 2020 UN General Assembly partner, Microsoft.

Watch UN Innovation Room conversations weekly on Thursdays at 9 am EDT: https://www.gzeromedia.com/unga/livestream/

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