Wednesday 10 September 2008 (10 Ramadan 1429) Our public opinion on women Bushra Faisal Al-Sebaie I Okaz IT is sad that we have to import pictures of the Grand Mosque from China. It is also regrettable that if we want to know our own public's opinion on certain issues, we have to look overseas and consult organizations such as Gallup. There had been a lot of discussions in the last decade on the rights of women in Saudi society. The argument has finally been settled, at least among those concerned. People now differentiate between the rules of Islamic Shariah and cultural traditions, which have the upper hand on a number of issues concerning Saudi women. Meanwhile, officials have postponed taking a decision on these issues because society is not ready to accept more reforms. The irony is that we have not heard of a study or a survey outlining the opinion of the Saudi public in a scientific and statistical way. However, on Dec. 21, 2007, Gallup published the results of a survey of Saudis on women's issues. It was clear from these results that the majority of Saudi men were in support of women's rights. The poll found that 55 percent of men and 66 percent of women were in support of women's driving, 75 percent of men and 82 percent of women supported the right of women to work in any job they like outside the home, and 83 percent of both sexes supported the right of women to keep their own income for themselves. The Gallup report - commenting on the last finding - said it was surprising that Saudi men would support the rights of women on this issue, even though it is against their own personal interests. The poll also found that 66 percent of men and 79 percent of women supported gender equality in legal rights. The report said the concept of total equality means that women would have to relinquish some of their rights. In this case, they would have to share their income with men or give them some of their assets in case of divorce. Finally, the poll found that 66 percent of women and 52 percent of men believe that women should occupy leading positions in government establishments. The report concluded by saying that after the havoc stirred by the story of the "Qatif girl", Saudi men are now more supportive of women's rights. We should have an independent Saudi organization to gauge public opinion. In light of the results of this survey, is it possible to see more reforms and some qualitative improvements on the condition of women in Saudi Arabia?