Saudi Arabia has announced further easing of the strict rules for women.
In future, women will be allowed to obtain passports and travel abroad without the permission of a man, as the state newspaper Umm al-Kura reported yesterday, citing a government decision.
According to media reports, the new rules apply to all women over the age of 21.
In the arch-conservative kingdom, women require the consent of their husbands, fathers, brothers, or other male relatives to travel, study, and perform certain occupations.
This guardianship system ensures that women have the legal status of a minor throughout their lives. Internationally this is criticized sharply, in Saudi Arabia itself is increasingly provoked resistance.
Kronprinz pushed ahead with liberalization
In recent years, however, Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has started to relax the very strict rules for women.
For example, women have been allowed to drive a car since June 2018 – a particularly symbolic step, as until then Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world where women were not allowed to drive themselves. Women were also allowed to attend football matches and take up professions previously reserved for men.
This liberalization has indeed improved the lives of many women. However, the Muslim country is still a long way from gender equality. Critics speak of merely cosmetic reforms and demand that the guardianship system be completely abolished.