Saudi Arabia is known for having quite a strong patriarchal system in place. Women and men don't have equal rights, in fact women have practically none in comparison to men. Since Prince Mohammed Ben Salmane came to power, the country has since become a bit more liberal. But nothing is set in stone yet.
‘A passport will be issued to any Saudi national who applies for one’ indicated the government journal Umm Al Qura. This decision might seem harmless, but it will actually allow Saudi women to travel and leave the country without the need for a man to accompany them. This document was signed on August 1st, 2019 and signifies a new victory for women’s rights.
A powerful guardian
Although this is good news for Saudi women who defend equality between men and women, lots of newspapers in the country such as Okaz, close to the government, aren’t letting people forget that this decision only concerns women who are twenty-one years old and over. Furthermore, in a Saudi family, a mother and her daughters who are over the age limit would be authorised to leave the country as they wish, but any younger sisters will not be allowed to accompany them.
Saudi Arabia still has the system in which the male guardian has the final say and the right of approval. Women must therefore ask their guardian’s permission (father, husband or male family member) before they can work, get married, travel, renew their passport, educate their children or even educate themselves.
Step by step
Every year, Saudi women fight for what is rightfully theirs: their freedom. Little by little, women’s rights are getting passed and their opportunities are improving. A year after it was decreed that they were allowed to drive, this new right to travel without a male guardian is the newest symbol of strong, female emancipation.
Since then, Saudi women have won other victories such as being able to attend football matches or even apply for jobs, which before was just reserved for men.
Although these advances will make life simpler for lots of women in Saudi Arabia, the super-conservative country still hasn’t abolished their system in which men still have control over women.
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