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Raha Moharrak’s Latest Challenge: Changing Social Perceptions

Raha Moharrak by Michelle Peric for Mojeh

Raha Moharrak is best known for being the first Saudi woman to reach the Summit of Mount Everest, but she is now working to overcome another obstacle; she is campaigning to change the laws and social stigma that restrict female sport activities in the Kingdom, where there is a lack of both public and to a slightly lesser extent private sports facilities for women. 

Using her status as an inspiration and role model for women, Moharrak is now working to raise awareness of the need for more sport and exercise facilities for women in Saudi Arabia through speaking engagements at schools and forums. She addresses the negative effect lack of exercise and sports opportunities is having on women in Saudi society, noting  that lack of exercise is correlated with obesity, depression, diabetes, brittle bones, vitamin deficiency and other health and well-being issues.

The Saudi government has taken steps to increase opportunities for women to engage in sport and exercise, including the issuing of licenses for all female gyms and the creation of walkways in various areas around major cities where both men and women can walk. However, Moharrak believes that for further changes to be made there must be a change in the social perception held by some that sports are the realm of males. She wants people to understand that sports and exercise are about health and well-being, and that they should be encouraged for males and females alike.

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