Saudi women to be allowed to travel abroad on their own

Saudi government decree allows women over 21 to travel and obtain their own passport without the need of approval from a man in the family.

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São Paulo – Saudi women are no longer required a permission from a man in the family to travel overseas or obtain a passport. A decree signed by king Salman bin Abdulaziz made public on Thursday (1) stresses the right of every Saudi citizen to obtain a passport and limits the need for a male guardian’s approval to minors only. The news was widely circulated in Saudi, Arab and international media outlets.

The decree was written in a gender-neutral manner and does not state any restrictions specific to women. The initiative is part of the government project Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to modernize and diversify the country’s economy beyond oil. In that sense, Saudi Arabia has promoted an opening movement, allowing women to go to stadiums, drive and, now, travel on their own.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, princess Reema Bint Bandar, tweeted that the amendments are “designed to elevate the status of Saudi women within our society, including granting them the right to apply for passports and travel independently.”

For Bandar, “these new regulations are history in the making. It is a holistic approach to gender equality that will unquestionably create real change for Saudi women,” she added. The diplomat said that women have always played an integral role in the Arab country’s development.

The issue was under discussion in the Consultative Assembly of Shoura for quite some time. Professor Eqbal Darandari, a member of the Shoura Council, had spoken about the necessity of revoking the requirement of a guardian’s permission for Saudi women to travel.

“I am for justice, and there’s a lot of injustice against some women due to misconstrued traditions and practices, and limited religious outlooks, putting women in harm’s way as a result,” Darandari said as reported by the Saudi newspaper website Arab News.

Several international media outlets reported earlier this year that the decision to remove all restrictions on women traveling was being discussed at the highest levels of government and was due to be implemented by the end of this year.

Translated by Guilherme Miranda

Fayez Nureldine/AFP

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