The Week in a Poem: “The Women in Black”

“The Women in Black” by Hala al-Dosari, a Saudi Writer and Women Rights Activist


Once upon a time, in a busy shop

In the land of tribes and ancient civilizations

A little girl sat watching…

in silent resignation

Grown-up women with shrouds of black

Hidden and silent… in isolation

With a “no-trespassing” look

They wandered around in simulation

When a single woman appeared, suddenly, in the shop

The little girl felt a sudden sensation

Yes, the woman wore the black alright…

Yet, she walked with determination

Not cautious, fearful, or covered-up

The woman moved as a distinct population


She seemed to own the world

She was … such an inspiration…

Why would she be on her own? The little girl wondered?

Wasn’t she afraid from reprimands or accusations?

Looking that pretty in embroidered black,

Defying the norms as if in a celebration

Who gave her the money that she’s spending

Without a second thought or a hesitation?

Was she really confident and strong as she seemed?

Or is it the little girl’s wishful imagination????


In that little girl’s life

Most women shared a specific combination

Emotions were not revealed, opinions were suppressed

With lots of reservations

They held on to their black tightly

Least someone recognize their identifications

Their world seemed full of judging men

Watching for proofs of condemnation

So the women in black kept their covers tight

Protecting their reputation


Yet a single woman in black dared to show her face

Visible without a mask, in obvious relaxation!!

The little girl knew that something/ someone

Must explain that awkward observation

Of that visible woman in black


Despite the isolation… despite the limitations

As time passes-by,

The little girl grows in fascination

More visible women are out there

Raising their voices in frustration

They no longer accept second-places

They no-longer sat in resignation

The reality doors are shut but the virtual ones are forcedly-opened

With fierce determination

The women in black want their rights

Demanding full participation

Campaigning for municipal elections, driving,

Minimum marital age or right of self- representation

Commenting on international treaties for women,

Gender-equality, or women-rights affiliation

They are loud and visible

No longer silent, passive, or fearing condemnation

They write, blog, tweet, and post

In a constant flow of information

They build networks and constituencies

Unlimited by gender-segregation,

No longer helpless or maintained

As prisoners of infinite duration…


Yes, we are in a constant fear of social backlash

But the power of words defeats organizations

The little girl recalls the single woman in black…

Whenever she feels a hesitation…

Beautiful and powerful in her own way…

A woman, who defeats stagnation…

We will not be deprived

We are a different generation….

And if countries can be flipped over and start anew

In search of liberation

We, too, the women in black

Can exceed our own expectations…

Mai Sharif, first woman to vote at Saudi Arabia    Photo:


For the first time in Saudi Arabia’s history, women are able to vote, register as candidates and run for office in the municipal elections, held from December 12. These are the first polls since the 2011 decision by late Saudi King Abdullah to grant women the right to vote and run for office.

The little girl’s dream in Hala’s poem has become true.



“First Saudi Women Register to Vote.” – Al Jazeera English. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.