Saudi Arabia is all set to allow its women to work and study without a man’s permission. While this may be a common affair for women all over the world, it is hugely progressive for Saudi Arabia because women’s lives are constantly regulated in this part of the world. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of the Arabic country has passed an order stating that women can now avail government benefits like education and healthcare without taking permission from a man in their family.
Saudi Arabia is implementing a stream of new initiatives to increase the representation of women in its workforce and this is the latest step towards it
The country found itself in a controversy last month when it was elected to the UN women’s commission, which meant that it now has to shape “global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women”.
Britain voted for Saudi Arabia but Belgium’s Prime Minister said that he “regretted” the decision of the UK.
The order passed by the king allows women in some situations to have education and healthcare facilities. Women also have the ability to work in public and private sector without the consent of a man.
“Now at least it opens the door for discussion on the guardian system,” Maha Akeel, a women’s rights campaigner and a director at Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Women are independent and can take care of themselves.”
Saudi Arabia took notice of its women’s liberty in 2011 when the late King Abdullah passed an order to allow women on to the government advisory, Shura Council. After that, a few more orders were passed allowing women to vote in municipal elections, work in some retail and hospitality jobs and compete in the Olympics for the first time in 2012.
All these initiatives have done little to bring up Saudi Arabia’s position in the Global Gender Gap report by World Economic Forum which stood at 141 of 144 countries in 2016. The report evaluates women’s position in economic and political participation, health and education.
For long, women in the country have lived under male guardianship which means that they have to take permission from their father, husband, or son to travel, study or marry, greatly hampering women’s rights, say rights groups. This leads to men taking advantage of their rights in several cases.
Picture credit- Rediff