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Saudi women can now travel without a male guardian’s consent

August 2, 2019
Saudi women can now travel without a male guardian’s consent

Photo: AFP

Women aged 21 and above in Saudia Arabia can now travel alone and obtain a passport without the consent of a male guardian.

The new amendment was approved on Thursday by the Saudi Cabinet. Previously, women had to gain approval from their male guardian to obtain a passport or travel.

Women without a passport had to share a page with their male guardian in their passport. This made it impossible for women to travel alone, which rights campaigners criticized as women oppression.

The reform will come into effect at the end of August. The Ministry of Information called the amendment an effort “to promote women’s rights and empowerment, equal to men.”

Saudi Arabia has been a conservative society for many years. However, pressure from activists have urged the government to change the policies.

Women were granted driving rights in 2017 and were issued their driving licenses in 2018. The last few years also saw the introduction of the Kingdom’s first movie cinemas and first concerts.

Earlier today, Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States of America tweeted that the updated travel and driving laws “are designed to elevate the status of Saudi women”.

However, activists claim that Saudi Arabia has a long way to go. Women still need a male guardian’s consent to get married or divorced, open a business or in some cases access health care.

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Saudi Arabia, travel, laws, passports, Kingdom, male guardians, Saudi Cabinet, women rights