Saudi Women Go Beyond the Threshold of “Male Guardianship”

Saudi Women Go Beyond the Threshold of Male Guardianship

After allowing Saudi women to travel abroad independently without a male guardian’s permission, international and national reactions increased in frequency—Rima Bandar confirmed that the new regulations aim to raise the status of women in Saudi society and Ivanka Trump considered it a big step.

International and National Reactions

Saudi woman witnesses a new era of full legal and legitimate rights after the major breakthrough brought about by the promulgation of the new regulations, namely the amendment of 13 articles in 4 systems in the Saudi state to activate and empower women in society. Which comes only one year after the decision to allow women to drive, reflecting the rapid enforcement of community reforms.

“The decision aims to raise the status of women within Saudi society, including granting them the right to apply for getting passports and to travel independently without the need to guardian’s permission,” Princess Rima bint Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the United States tweeted.

“We have always been waiting for these amendments, whether to include women in the advisory board or to issue driver’s licenses,” Princess Rima added, “Saudi Leadership has demonstrated its commitment and concern to gender equality.

Princess Rima bint Bandar’s comment expresses the joy of the Saudi elites who have welcomed the new amendments in the past few days.

For her part, Ivanka, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, said in a tweet via Twitter: “The announcement by Saudi Arabia of reforms that will dismantle the guardianship system and allow women to obtain passports, travel and work without securing the permission of a male relative, represents major progress for the Kingdom! More of this!”.

For his part, Dr. Issa Al-Ghaith, a Shari’a judge and member of the Saudi Shura Council, described the decision as “a legal and legitimate right for women”. He continued in a talk to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper: “By this, the Saudi woman has full access to all her rights, and there is only the legalization of the Shari’a and the establishment of a personal status law, as in the other Arab and Islamic countries, including the Gulf Personal Status Law yet it is not binding, and we still need a comprehensive domestic national law for all personal circumstances”.

Other Significant Amendments

Allowing Saudi woman to travel independently wasn’t the only amendments—one of the most prominent decisions was the equality between men and women in retirement and employment, along with gender equality in the definition of labor and the definition of the worker.

The age is not the only condition for entitlement to retirement, but there are other requirements detailed in the insurance system of different conditions and provisions according to the duration of contributions.

As for Article 155, its previous text was (the employer may not dismiss the worker or warn her of dismissal while her maternity leave), the provision of the article was changed to the benefit of the working woman’s right to extend this protection and to add the period of pregnancy for the period of maternity leave previously protected by the same article prior to its amendment.

Also, restrictions, including setting a higher ceiling for days of absence, have been added to protect the employer from harm resulting from this right to the working woman.

On the other hand, Article no. 91 was amended as follows: “the head of the family in the application of this system is the father or mother as for the minor children”.

In this regard, Dr. Saud Al-Dhahian, a sociology professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, comments: “If we go back when our ancestors were traveling abroad in search of a livelihood, then it was the woman who ran the family, and so it is logical that the head of the family is the person present, whether man or woman”.