The government of Saudi Arabia announced that women in the nation can now travel independently without the approval of a male ‘guardian.’ Until now, women were treated as legal minors and had to seek approval from a male guardian such as father, husband, brother, or any other male relative to apply for a passport or to travel abroad.
As per the royal decree, women over the age of 21 in the Gulf nation can now obtain a passport without any authorization from the male guardian.
Further, women will also be able to register a birth, death, marriage, or a divorce, a right that only men had until now.
Reema Bandar Al-Saud, the first Saudi Arabian female ambassador to the United States, confirmed this in a Twitter post:
I am elated to confirm that KSA will be enacting amendments to its labor and civil laws that are designed to elevate the status of Saudi women within our society, including granting them the right to apply for passports and travel independently. 1/4
— Reema Bandar Al-Saud (@rbalsaud) August 2, 2019
While it may sound regressive to the rest of the world, this is a giant leap towards women liberation and equality in Saudi Arabia, which is one of the nations in the world with the least parity among genders.
Saudi Arabia was in news recently for women attempting to flee the overly patriarchal society and seeking asylum in other liberal nations such as Canada and Australia.
Crown prince of Saudi Arabia – Mohammed bin Salman has eased many restrictions on women since the past few years. For instance, last year, the prince abandoned the restrictions on driving on women. However, critics of the government also bring to light the crackdown on women activists across Saudi Arabia, saying that the government wants the change only on its terms.0