To US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley:
We are appalled that Saudi Arabia, one of the worst human rights and women’s rights violators, was just elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in a vote cast by a secret ballot during a UN Economic and Social Council session. We call on you to tell us how you voted and to speak out publicly against this outrageous decision that makes a mockery of such an important commission and of the UN itself.
UN Women tasks this commission with addressing gender inequality and empowering women worldwide. The decision to allow Saudi Arabia to participate in this program is unimaginable as the World Economic Forum ranked the kingdom as 141 out of 143 countries on their Global Gender Gap Index in 2016.
Saudi Arabia, the most gender-segregated society in the world, has a horrendous track record when it comes to women’s freedom. The country follows a strict system of guardianship that requires a male relative’s permission for a woman to travel, attend school, obtain work, or even seek medical attention. Saudi Arabia is also the only country in the world to ban women from driving, a practice that severely limits women’s independence and autonomy.
As a public servant, you have a responsibility to tell us how you voted. We also believe you have a responsibility towards women around the world to make sure that the Saudi regime is not given a voice in a commission that is supposed to empower women.