At the World Cup, women shrug off concerns over dress codes

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Coming from Brazil for the World Cup in Qatar, Daniela Crawford had been concerned about conservative dress codes. But like many women who attended the tournament, she said she encountered no problems.

“In Brazil, people are used to it, but we came here and we decided to show who we are,” said Crawford, in shorts, taking photos with a Brazilian flag with her husband and their two children outside Doha’s Education City Stadium ahead of the game. Brazil. -Croatia quarterfinal match last week.

This is the first World Cup held in an Arab and Muslim nation. In the lead up, the Qatari government, world soccer body FIFA and national governments advised attendees from around the world to respect local customs, in everything from women’s clothing to drinking.

Many fans who spoke to The Associated Press said that despite the concerns, they have had no problems and have only had to make minor adjustments to their clothing. Some welcomed Qatar’s strict restrictions on alcohol., saying it made them feel more secure. Qatar, for its part, presents the tournament as an opportunity to overcome stereotypes about the role of women here.

Qatar is a conservative nation, and most Qatari women in public wear headscarves and loose-fitting robes. But it’s also home to an international population of more than 2 million foreign workers, far outnumbering the around 300,000 citizens, so it’s not used to foreign women.

Bemie Ragay, a Filipino woman who has worked in Qatar for eight years, said she has always felt safe, “safer than my country.” Dress is not a problem as long as you know the limits, she said, pointing out that she was wearing a crop top.

“You can’t just walk here on the street in a backless (suit). You have to respect their culture,” she said.

Isabeli Monteiro, a 32-year-old Brazil fan, said she wore longer skirts instead of shorts and had had no difficulty. “Nobody looks at us in any way, especially since we are inside a World Cup with different cultures from all over the world.”

Women played an integral role in the organization of the World Cup, including several in high positions in the Supreme Committee, the body in charge of the tournament, said Fatma Al Nuaimi, a spokeswoman for the SC.

She said she hoped a legacy of the tournament would be to change attitudes towards women in the region.

“A lot of people actually have a misperception, especially when it comes to the role of women in Qatar or in the region,” she said. Fans who come to Qatar see that “women have rights and are actually being empowered,” she said.

Qatar has said that improving the situation of women in the small Gulf nation is one of its priorities. Women hold a number of prominent government and academic posts, including three Cabinet ministers. The mother of its ruling emir, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser al-Missned, is one of the most famous women in the Arab world, known for championing social causes.

Qatar also has one of the highest rates of education for women in the Arab world. The number of Qatari women at university it is twice the number of Qatari men, and almost all Qatari boys and girls attend primary school.

Still, the country has for years sat near the bottom of the World Economic Forum’s list. Global Gender Gap Reportwhich tracks the gaps between women and men in employment, education, health and politics.

Rights groups have particularly singled out laws that require a male guardian’s permission for a woman to travel or marry, saying women often need the same permission to work or for some forms of reproductive health care. , including Pap smears.

About 37% of Qatari women work, high for the region, but has remained level in recent years, according to government statistics. By comparison, Saudi Arabia has seen more aggressive growth, with the percentage of Saudi women employed rising from 14% in 2019, one of the lowest in the region, to almost 27% this year.

Mead El-Amadi, director of the FIFA Fan Festival in Doha, said the women involved in organizing the tournament will be role models for other women who want to enter the business of football or sports in general.

“Globally, soccer is a male-dominated sport,” he said. But she said the women organizers had the support of their male colleagues “to make this happen and for the world to look at us today, offering this great event.”


AP writer Lee Keath contributed to this report. ___

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