The legal and social position of women in Saudi Arabia has also received a boost from recent mass protests such as the Arab Spring, which has affected Saudi Arabia less than other Arab states but still represents a strong force in the country. Yuce et al (2014) carried out a context and sentiment analysis of the role of social networks in driving the ability of Muslim women to challenge the predominant social status of women in Arab nations, with a particularly focus on the 'Women to Drive' campaign which speaks out against the legal ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. This analysis demonstrated that women are increasingly using a range of brokering and bridging processes to drive the diffusion of information and to build coalitions amongst like-minded individuals in order to drive an online collective action and challenge the embedded social views on women's role in Saudi society. Other studies in this area have focused on the political climate in Saudi Arabia and how this influences the social status of women. For example, Melly (2013, p. 32) carried out a content analysis of the royal decree to appoint women members to the consultative assembly of Saudi Arabia. This decree was found to have been criticised by both conservative and liberal parties in Saudi Arabia, thus demonstrating the difficulties inherent in driving social reform strategies in the country.
Other, more detailed, studies in the academic literature have focused more clearly on the gendered nature of the governance regimes and the institutions that shape the legal and social systems in these countries. In particular, Metcalfe (2011, p. 131) examined human resource development (HRD) in Arab states, looking to analyse the questions of "what are the social and cultural factors that shape gender and HRD systems in three Arab Gulf States (Bahrain, UAE and Saudi Arabia), and how are they linked to women's current social and economic status in the Gulf?" This analysis focused on the development of a new framework for conceptualising gender in the Gulf States and demonstrated how national HRD strategies could help to empower women in society through partnership with civil society. However, this study did demonstrate that women in Saudi Arabia still require support to develop feminist agency in order to overcome embedded social and legal barriers to their activities (Metcalfe, 2011). The other main academic study in this area focused on the cultural value based approach used by the government of Saudi Arabia to apply its own conservative cultural values to aspects of society including education, technology and policy formation (Al Rashedi et al, 2015). This study used statistical techniques to demonstrate that political and legal interventions play a major role in supporting the development of a social role for women, including investment in education for women, but that these interventions still tend to limit the overall involvement and empowerment of women, ensuring a male dominated society.
Arabic women - status of health and treatment