One woman on the kingdom’s Shoura Council is calling for it to be revoked, according to reports.
However one woman is calling for more to continue in the near future, particularly when it comes to empowering females in the kingdom.
Dr Eqbal Darandari, who sits on Saudi’s consultative Shoura Council, has called for an end to the kingdom’s male guardianship law, according to reports.
Currently, a woman must be accompanied by a male relative – typically her husband, father or brother – when leaving the house. She also needs permission from a man to marry, rent a property, obtain a passport, and travel abroad.
It’s the latter that Dr Darandari, who sits on the council’s Human Rights Committee, has highlighted in a recent interview with Arab News.
“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,” she was quoted as saying.
“I don’t think allowing women to travel will lead to an increase in the number of girls’ escape cases, which often occurs in broken homes lacking familial compatibility.”
The younger generation “believe they’re entitled to independence and trust”, Dr Darandari said, adding that this “gives them great confidence in society and builds their sense of belonging”.
Certain situations surrounding the issue of male guardianship have already been relaxed this year on King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s orders, with women now allowed to use government services such as education and healthcare without a man’s consent.
The move came as part of Vision 2030, the kingdom’s post-oil economy plan under which the government aims to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020.
The initiative, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aims to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.
Under the plans, King Salman also issued a historic royal decree in September, allowing females the right to lawfully gain driving licences in the kingdom from June 2018.
Women will be able to attend sports events in stadiums in three cities from next year, and female students in the kingdom are now allowed to carry their phones while on campus.
Additionally, more Saudi females have been appointed to top jobs, a royal directive allowed women to use certain government services without a male guardian’s consent, and recent approval was issued for the go-ahead of women’s gyms.