For most of us, life can feel like a constant battle for our identity, our sense of self and our place in the world.

When it comes to women, it’s a battle between how much of our life we are allowed to enjoy, and how much we are judged for it.

A common refrain in the Middle East is that women are the “second class” in Islam, and a major reason why women are often denied access to leadership positions in Muslim societies.

“It’s not an issue of being a Muslim, but about being a woman,” said one former Saudi journalist, who wished to remain anonymous.

“In Saudi Arabia, it is the duty of women to show off their bodies, their beauty and their femininity.”

Saudi Arabia has been the epicentre of the global Islamic State group’s (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) expansion, and has been home to hundreds of female jihadists.

“If you are a woman in Saudi Arabia and you have a dream, you are allowed a dream,” said a former Saudi woman in her 40s who wished not to be identified.

“You are not allowed to dream a bad dream.”

But despite these restrictions, Saudi women have been able to make their own way, albeit through the shadows.

For many of them, being a female journalist has not meant being confined to a man’s world.

In the wake of the attacks in Paris, Saudi Arabia’s largest newspaper, al-Hayat, announced that it would no longer publish stories about women, citing “an unwillingness by some to give the news media the platform to cover women’s issues”.

The move was widely seen as a response to the killings of three Saudi journalists in a Saudi prison, and sparked widespread anger.

But it also raised the question of whether Saudi Arabia would allow the country’s media to cover the human rights situation of its citizens.

The paper, for example, has refused to publish pictures of the death of activist Raif Badawi, who was jailed for his work as a blogger.

A Saudi journalist’s struggle with the oppression of women is not new, but the issue has now taken a new twist.

The Saudi woman interviewed in this article, who is now 25, had no previous experience working in media.

Her first job was as a cleaner in a local mall, where she was asked to help clean a male guest at a party.

The woman said she had to fight her body to find work, and was asked not to report on the event, but she said that her experience in the mall helped her understand the power of the system that she had been denied.

“I did not know that the system was different from men, but it was,” she said.

The story of a woman working in a mall in Saudi is not a new one.

Women’s rights campaigners have long pushed for greater access to media outlets, and many believe that Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a historic change.

But while many Saudis have embraced their new role as media consumers, many others have not.

As one Saudi woman told Al Jazeera, “There are many women in the media and media-related industries who have been subjected to harassment and discrimination.

They are not interested in journalism.”

The lack of access to the media is not unique to Saudi Arabia.

In 2013, the UK-based Human Rights Watch reported that there are “more than 1,400 women journalists in Saudi prisons”, including at least one imprisoned journalist.

The number of women journalists has risen by almost 50% since 2000, but these figures only tell part of the story.

According to a 2014 study, the number of Saudi women who have received a job offer has more than tripled in the last decade.

“Women journalists and media workers are often the first to be discriminated against when they report on cases of human rights abuses or the effects of the war on Yemen,” the study said.

“Many of these women are left with no option but to hide their identities or move abroad to work in countries that do not support their freedom.”

The Human Rights Commission of Saudi Arabia (HRRC), the countrys independent watchdog agency, found that Saudi women were “less likely than men to be able to speak out about human rights violations”.

And although HRRC also said that women had the right to “express themselves freely, but their voices were not heard in society”.

But for some, the fear of being ostracised by the media may have been more of a factor in their decision to remain silent.

For one woman in the interview, the choice of leaving the house for fear of violence was a major factor in her decision to stay silent.

“At that time, I was a student and had a job, and I felt I needed to be safe,” she told Al-Jazeera.

“So I went to the mall to buy some clothes.

I thought about my future and thought I would be safe.

I was afraid of being harassed, but I knew that would never happen because I was so young.

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