Life in Saudi Arabia from the eyes of Majd Abdulghani, a dynamic young woman

"I want to prove that being a Muslim Saudi woman who wears a headscarf doesn't stop me from becoming a scientist", says Majd Abdulghani

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Smiling Saudi women. Image source: Wikipedia Commons
In a world that has progressed immensely in the societal domain, where society strives to shrug off the remaining bits of misogyny and male chauvinism, it is dispiriting to observe the status of women in Saudi Arabia. Women require the permission of their guardian men, mahram,  to perform the simplest of tasks, like opening a bank account. At the same time, ironically, there is a stronger presence of women on university campuses than that of men. However, in a kingdom that is under the choking grips of staunch senior clerics, there is little space for the progress of women.
Saudi Arabia
Image Courtesy: fastcompany.com

Majd Abdulghani, a twenty year old girl living in Saudi Arabia, provides us with very insightful episodes into her life. As she records on her microphone for a Podcast by Radio Diaries, the deep sense of passion and hope in her voice is quite palpable. Majd is different from the other girls. There is an innate sense of questioning the norms that her mother and the rest of her family seem to have easily accepted.

Being a country that has no minimum age restrictions for the marriage of women, Majd started receiving proposals from men since she turned 19. As a bachelor’s student in King Saud University with a brimming with a desire to study and make a difference to the world, though, Majd confessed she had no intentions of marrying anyone so soon.
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Majd shares a pretty casual relationship with her four brothers and her parents. Her work in the university genetics lab involves interactions with men, which, according to her, is a little strange, but not unnerving. There are certain rules she has to follow, though, like completely avoid shaking hands, or any other form of body contact. Her family has accepted this as her field of work, so they don’t have a problem.
Karate at the female gym in Saudi Arabia is her passion. She refers to it as The Fight Club. Taking Karate classes is very unusual for girls in the Arabic country, something her father had picked on. He had already expressed he wished her to discontinue with Karate, since it makes her less feminine. But her parents fail to understand that Karate is more than just physical training for her – its an art, its something she can lose herself in, and not think about anything else at that time. They want her to start getting accustomed to the kitchen, so she could fulfill her responsibilities as a wife and keep her husband happy in the future. That is how the society looks at women and marriage in Saudi Arabia – performing wifely duties and taking care of home – something that seems illogical to Majd.
It is mandatory for women to wear an abaya, a long black over-garment, and a niqab, that is worn over the face so that they don’t “show off their beauty”. Her brother believes there should be an opening for only one eye in the niqab, so that a maximum area is covered. While it is again unfair and misogynistic, Majd looks at this custom with a unique set of eyes. She says the prospect of walking down the streets fully covered from head to toe is quite exhilarating. In the university, which houses separate campuses for men and women, Majd can roam freely without the abaya, and wear make up, and truly be herself, which is a more liberating experience.
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A year later, studying at King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST), Majd received another proposal from a boy, who is well-mannered and polite, according to her parents. Agreeing to meet with him and bearing just a one percent chance of saying yes, she traveled back to her hometown from her dorms in the University.
On the day of the meet, Majd saw “the guy” asking her hand for marriage, and found him pretty handsome. And like all couples that always start with their first awkward and nervous conversations, Majd and the man shared greetings and introduced themselves. Majd was content with his answers. Anmar wanted to come up with an invention to change the way energy is used in Saudi Arabia, and he didn’t seem to mind that her interests were Karate and genetics. But the one statement that he said stuck with her: “We’ll push each other to the top.”
Since her marriage with Anmar, Majd has been accepted into a masters program in genetics, and is well on the way to achieve her dreams. Even the shackles of society hasn’t held her back in being fulfilling everything that she believes in, and this helps her stand out as a paradigm for other women in Saudi Arabia.
-By Saurabh Bodas
Saurabh is pursuing engineering and is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle: saurabhbodas96
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Young Women More Likely to Depend on Alcohol to Improve Mental Health: Researchers

The study also tells that young women are more affected by alcohol use than men

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A recent study tells that young women appear to be more affected by high alcohol use than me leading to less interest in academics. Pixabay

Female college students are more likely to depend on drinking alcohol to improve mental well-being, say, researchers, adding that the young women appear to be more affected by high alcohol use than men, which may lead to less interest in academics.

“Cognitive aptitudes of young women appear to be more affected than for men with high alcohol use,” said study lead author Lina Begdache, Assistant Professor at Binghamton University in the US.

“These behaviors are regulated by the limbic system of the brain. However, the cognitive functions for high drinking alcohol use among the young men and women were different,” Begdache added.

For the findings, published in the journal Trends in Neuroscience and Education, researchers sought to compare neurobehaviours and academic effort among college students with low alcohol use with those of high alcohol consumption and build conceptual models that represent the integration of the different variables.

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The study found that young men and women exhibit common behavioural responses to high alcohol. Pixabay

They sent an anonymous survey to assess college students’ alcohol use and frequency along with questions on sleep, academic performance and attitude toward learning. They compared gender responses and found that both young men and women exhibit common behavioural responses to high alcohol use such as abuse of other substances and risk-taking.

The findings showed that young women reported generally less interest in the academic work and performance than young men. The latter reported more risky behaviours, such as being arrested, from excessive drinking.

The study also found that young women are more likely to depend on alcohol to improve mental well-being, which is also concerning, as they may self-medicate through drinking. In both genders, the researchers reported an increase in impulsive behaviours, which are under the control of the limbic system (the oldest part of the brain, evolutionary speaking).

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The study also found that young women are more likely to depend on alcohol to improve mental well-being. Pixabay

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Another reason for the difference seen is the differential metabolism of alcohol. Women metabolise alcohol at a slower rate, therefore, they are more likely to feel the effect of alcohol. Consequently, their brain is more likely to accumulate a toxic metabolite, acetaldehyde, which may be altering brain chemistry further to add to the differential behaviours identified in this study.

“Academic performance and risky behaviours among college students may be linked to their drinking habits, so more education and awareness should be shared with college students,” said Begdache.

“These findings are also explained by the fact that women tend to have higher connectivity between cortices, while men have a large cortical volume in the areas on the limbic system that support impulsivity,” Begdache added. (IANS)

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Young Scientist Develops Panic Button to Tackle Domestic Violence

If a distressed woman presses the button then it would alert the police or people nearby about violence

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A panic button has been developed to tackle crime against women. Pixabay

By Vivek Tripathi

The panic button, devised by an electronics and communication engineer, is set to play an important role in tackling domestic violence. On being pressed, it would alert the police or people nearby about violence.

Developed by young scientist Anjali Srivastava, the device uses GPS (Global Positioning System) technology.

Anjali, who has made several such tools, told IANS one to five emergency panic buttons could be added to it. “It operates in a 100-metre range and is too tiny to be noticed. Its battery last nearly 8 months. Women can keep the button that costs Rs 2,500 anywhere in the house as per their convenience,” she said.

It also has an audio-recording option, which could later serve as evidence. It could be used by housewives and girls living in paying guest (PG) accommodations.

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The button uses GPS to track the location of the victim. Pixabay

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“This type of innovative devices helps prevent crime against women,” said Gorakhpur scientific officer Mahadev Pandey.

“Anjali has made many such devices in the past, including anti-rape jeans and shocking gloves. This device is very important for the safety of women. It will prove to be very effective, especially in the coronavirus time,” said Shyam Cherasia, research and development in-charge of Ashoka Institute of Technology and Management.

GPS, a radio navigation system, allows land, sea, and airborne users to determine their exact location, velocity, and time 24 hours a day, in all weather conditions, anywhere in the world. (IANS)

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Dairy Products Don’t Protect Women Against Fracture Risk: Researchers

Dairy products do not benefit lumbar spine or femoral neck bone density, according to researchers

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Dairy products may not prevent age-related bone loss in women, reveals a study. Pixabay

Researchers have found that despite containing essential nutrients, dairy products do not benefit lumbar spine or femoral neck bone density, nor do they protect against fracture risk in women.

The study, based on data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) shows that during the menopause transition, when bone loss is accelerated, they offer little benefit in preventing bone mineral density loss or fractures.

According to the study, published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), as women enter the menopause transition, bone loss accelerates and may lead to osteoporosis.

The SWAN data revealed that this bone loss is not slowed down by the consumption of dairy products nor is fracture risk mitigated.

For the findings, the current study specifically looked at the effect of dairy intake on femoral and spine bone mineral density.

It is one of the few studies dedicated to examining how dairy consumption affects a woman’s risk of bone loss and fractures across the menopause transition.

Because two of the greatest risk factors for osteoporosis — age and sex — are beyond a woman’s control, there is an increased focus on possible modifiable risk factors to slow this irreversible, age-related, progressive, degenerative skeletal disease that makes a woman more susceptible to bone fractures.

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The study showed that women are at greater risk for osteoporosis than men. Pixabay

The findings showed that women are at greater risk for osteoporosis than men, and the risk increases significantly as women age.

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This study adds to the existing data suggesting a lack of benefit from the dairy intake on bone mineral density and fracture risk.

“There are many other health benefits of a Mediterranean-type diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as lean protein such as fish and low-fat dairy,” said study researcher Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

In addition, regular weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or jogging, can help maintain bone strength, and activities that improve strength and balance, such as yoga and tai chi, may help prevent falls,” Faubion added. (IANS)