Women’s rights may advance further in Saudi Arabia

In an effort to end centuries of strict male guardianship over women, hundreds of Saudi Arabian citizens have sent cables to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman imploring him to dismantle a system in which women remain almost entirely and legally dependent on men to make life decisions.

Under the current Saudi legal and cultural standard of guardianship, Saudi females require permission from males of influence in their lives, father, brother, or son, for example, to marry, drive an automobile, obtain rental property, have certain medical procedures performed and, in some cases, require permission from men of compelling force to accept a job.

In every case of study or travel abroad, Saudi females require a male to accompany them.

In concert with the written communication delivered to King Salmon, prominent suffragette Aziza Al-Yousef hand delivered a petition to the Saudi royal court containing the names of over 14,000 sponsors pressing King Salmon to take apart the guardian system.

“In every aspect, the important issue is to treat a woman as a full citizen.  We never had a problem with campaigning, but the problem is there is no answer. But we always hope – without hope, you cannot work,” al-Yousef told BBC.

As late as 2013, the Saudi kingdom had told the United Nations of its intent to abolish the arrangement, but no serious undertaking on Riyadh’s part has materialized.

The petition delivered to the royal court Monday follows Saudi women given the right to vote and stand for Saudi elections in late 2015, another signal the traditionalist kingdom is loosening its grip over females.


[The Telegraph] [Photo courtesy Fahad Shadeed/Reuters]