The Iran-Saudi Arabia Rivalry Has a Silver Lining.” The escalating rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia has alarmed foreign policy experts who believe that it could further destabilize the region. But feminists have reason to rejoice. In the competition between the two regimes to earn the mantle of the more moderate Islamic alternative, women have been the beneficiaries.
When Saudi women earned the right to vote, drive or run for office, Iranian women did not pay much attention. Women in Iran had always enjoyed those rights, and their Saudi counterparts were simply catching up. But when Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women’s presence in sports stadiums, Iranian women got angry at their own government. The timing of the Saudi announcement in late September was perfect — if inflaming Iran’s civil society was the goal. Only a few weeks earlier, Iranian women were barred from attending the qualifying World Cup match in Tehran between Iran and Syria, while Syrian women were permitted to enter the stadium.
The New York Times, December 27, 2017