Raha Moharrak: The Saudi Woman Redefining What It Means to Play Sports ‘Like a Girl’
There is an undeniable international stigma that exists surrounding women who play sports; from something as simple as the term ‘throwing like a girl,’ to the notion that professional female sports players are less feminine than average women — and thereby being more likely to undergo sex-testing; women playing sports does not seem like an easy pill for sexist cultures everywhere to swallow.
This is especially true in Saudi Arabia; a country that bans women from driving, and places huge legal and social restrictions on female presence in the public sphere.
Concomitantly, the prospect of females taking up professional sports in Saudi Arabia has historically been quite impossible. Indeed, the fact that Saudi Arabia only made legal female-only gyms just this last February explains the depth to which this taboo against female physical activity exists.
Despite this, Raha Moharrak has still recently managed to become the first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest. Raha has also climbed seven other of the world’s tallest mountains.
Raha herself was strongly opposed by her own father when she first decided to take up professional mountain climbing. Moreover, after receiving her father’s approval, she had to train outside Saudi Arabia, as there were no available training facilities and very little social acceptance.
Raha’s ultimate purpose, however, is much larger than these unique achievements, and much bigger than the mountains she climb. Raha wishes to completely transform the strict and sexist taboos that mainstream society holds towards females playing sports, both as amateurs and professionals.
WE SAID THIS: We hope to see more women like Raha pop up everywhere in the Middle East.