Saudi king's new order loosens guardianship rules on women

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has issued a directive to government offices that allows women greater access to government services without the consent of a male relative.

However, the other category refuses to recognize women's eligibility and considers them as minors even if they have been qualified as brain surgeons, limiting them to the consent of their guardians on all levels!

Lina Almaeena, a member of the Shoura Council says she believes that work permits, which do require guardian consent for women, will be among the "services" covered by the new decree. "Everyone is talking about it".

The Laois Fine Gael TD says released a statement today to say that Ireland has a very strong record on promoting the rights of women.

The OIC's Akeel said she looks forward to more decisions for empowering women. "If something is not in the law, we can demand it".

According to Saudi writer and women's rights advocate Abdullah Al-Alami, Riyadh introduced the measure merely to "satisfy the Human Rights Commission, in relation to the worldwide conventions to which the Kingdom has acceded".

"Now, at least it opens the door for discussion on the guardian system", Akeel told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Last week, an important step toward addressing the issue was taken when King Salman intervened and ordered a review of the current procedures and practices considering all restrictions imposed on women. "Some [men] take advantage of this male guardianship for their own benefit and abuse it".

This had allowed for peaceful human rights campaigners to be jailed under the laws with the special rapporteur to the UN's high commissioner on human rights saying the legislation does not comply with worldwide law.

Increasing the participation of women in the workforce from 22 per cent to 30 per cent is one of the main goals in Saudi Vision 2030.

"It [Saudi Arabia] issues these royal decrees without enforcement mechanisms and no real repercussions of noncompliance", she said.

On Yemen, the prince defended the kingdom's decision to go to war there, which is costing Saudi Arabia tens of millions of dollars a day, according to some estimates.

Relations between the two regional powers worsened after hundreds of people, many of them Iranians, died in a crush at the annual haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in 2015.

Moreover, the government can not encourage women to pursue their and get employed while at the same time allow such restrictions to be put on them.

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