Saudi women will be allowed to obtain a passport and travel abroad without having to obtain the prior consent of a male “guardian”, the government announced in Riyadh on Thursday.
“A passport will be issued to any Saudi national who requests it,” the government’s decision was announced in the official media of Umm Al Qura.
The pro-government newspaper, Okaz and several local media citing sources of senior government officials, said the rule would apply to women over the age of 21.
Until now, women in Saudi Arabia had to obtain permission from one of their “guardians” – husband, father or other male relative – to get married, renew their passport or leave the country.
This system, which equates the Saudis to minors all their lives, has been denounced for decades by women’s rights organizations
The decision to allow Saudi women to travel freely abroad is the latest in a series of liberalization measures by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, famous as MBS, who is in charge of all kingdom affairs. ultraconservative.
The most emblematic of these reforms has been allowing women to drive a car since June 2018. Women have also recently been allowed to attend football games and to access jobs formerly strictly reserved for men.
While they have transformed the lives of many Saudi women, these reforms are insufficient in the eyes of critics, who point out that the “tutoring” system whereby men have virtually all the power over their female parents is still far from over. to be abolished.