Saudi Arabia will allow women to travel abroad without approval from a male “guardian”, the government said Thursday, ending a restriction that drew international censure and prompted extreme attempts to flee the kingdom.
According to Arab News, Saudi women no longer require a permission from a “male guardian” to travel or obtain a passport, a decree signed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz indicates.
The decree is written in a gender-neutral manner, and does not state any restrictions specific to women.
Since the launch of Saudi Vision 2030, the Saudi authorities have ‘addressed all flaws in the system that prevented women from living their lives securely and free from unnecessary hassles.’
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US said she was “elated” to confirm the new changes to the country’s labor and civil law.
The decision, following years of campaigning by activists, comes after high-profile attempts by women to escape their guardians despite a string of reforms including a historic decree last year that overturned the world’s only ban on female motorists.
The reform grants women greater autonomy and mobility, the pro-government Saudi Gazette newspaper said, hailing the decision as “one giant leap for Saudi women”.
The decision was met with jubilation on social media, with the hashtag “No guardianship over women travel” gaining traction and many posting humorous memes of women fleeing with suitcases and being chased by men.
“Some women’s dreams were aborted due to inability to leave the country for whatever reason… to study abroad, a work opportunity, or even flee if so desired,” Saudi businesswoman Muna AbuSulayman said on Twitter.