Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar have sent women athletes to the London 2012 Olympics for the first time. Many hope that the inclusion of Muslim female athletes in the Games will be a catalyst for women's progress in Middle Eastern nations. Read this Los Angeles Times article about these trailblazing athletes, and how they are serving as an example of strength and perseverance for women in their countries and across the world
Bahiya Al-Hamad, 19, is aiming for history. The air-rifle shooter will be part of a trio of Qatari female athletes heading to London this year — a first for the tiny Gulf nation. Qatar, like Brunei and Saudi Arabia, has never been represented by women at the Olympics before.
By 2010, only three countries had never sent female athletes to the Games: Brunei, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Saudi Arabia and Qatar had been competing regularly with all-male teams. In 2010, the International Olympic Committee announced it would "press" these countries to enable and facilitate the participation of women for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Anita DeFrantz, chair of the IOC's Women and Sports Commission, suggested that countries be barred if they prevented women from competing.
For the first time ever, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei sent women to the Olympics, which make London the first time ever that there will be a female representative from every country. This was made possible because of the Universality rule, demonstrating its relevance and importance to create change through offering the opportunity for women to compete athletically who come from cultures where they are severely suppressed.
This article portrays the gradual inclusion of women in the olympics. The London 2012 summer olympics was "the first time all sports [were] open to women and all national teams [included] female athletes—Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia had never sent women before." From an article featured in The Economist magazine on August 4, 2012
Brunei's flag bearer Mahusin holds the national flag as he leads the contingent in the athletes parade during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012.