Saudi Arabia Abolishes Guardianship Laws Restricting Travel

Saudi Arabia Abolishes Guardianship Laws Restricting Travel
Women in Saudi Arabia, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The Kingdom lifts restrictions on ability of women to independently obtain passports and travel freely

Kevin Verghese
August 02 , 2019
01 Min Read

A society in which male domination has deep roots, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has tried empowering women by taking significant steps through his efforts to modernise his kingdom. The existing laws of travel prevent women of all ages and men under the age of 21 to travel without the permission of a guardian.

The decision for an amendment came about with a series of cabinet decrees as reported in the official gazette stating that a person above the age of 18 can get a passport issued and does not require the permission of a guardian to travel internationally. Gaining the freedom to travel would represent a major victory for women in the conservative country, as human rights organisations have long persuaded the government to end male guardianship, arguing that the current system treats women as ‘second class citizens’.

Along with this, the decrees published also covered employment regulations that would expand work opportunities for women who constitute the majority of the unemployed Saudis. The newly implemented amendments are a step in the right direction to tackle the patriarchal system in Saudi Arabia.

The changes go into effect by the end of August. The new law builds on a series of recent reforms under Vision 2030, some specifically designed to elevate the status of women. "These new regulations are history in the making. They call for the equal engagment of women and men in our society," said Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the Saudi Ambassador to the US on her Twitter account. 

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