Two young women from Saudi Arabia made history at Friday night’s Olympics opening ceremony. Sarah Attar and Wojdan Shahrkhani, the first saudi arabian female athletes to ever compete, represent a landmark moment for Saudi women, who are pushing hard for their most basic rights, and for the female Olympians who are already the great victors of the 2012 games. These are the first Olympics in which every participating country is sending women: other hold-outs were Qatar and Brunei.
The International Olympics Committee negotiated with Saudi Arabia for months before finally convincing the country, which systematically excludes women from not just sports but social or outdoor activities in general, to allow these two athletes to go to London. And here they are, Attar on the left and Shahrkhani on the left, rebutting not just their government’s paternalistic insistence on female weakness, but a world that often views Saudi women as helpless: