The changes will help young girls, divorcees, and female law graduates.
Saudi Arabia’s Justice Ministry has approved four proposals in support of women’s rights in the last 10 days, Saudi newspaper Okaz reports.
The decisions will help protect girls under 17, divorcees and their children, and female law graduates.
According to Al Arabiya, lawmakers issued 10 proceedings relating to the marriage of minors. Permission to marry off girls under the age of 17 will now have to be obtained from a special court, and the marriage application will have to be submitted by the girl, her mother, or legal guardian.
A new fund for divorcees and their children was also approved. The fund will ensure that women will receive financial support quickly, without having to wait for their ex-husbands’ payments.
It will also become easier for women to gain custody of their children. As long as there are no disputes, women will be able to assume guardianship of their children without having to file a lawsuit in a personal status court.
The final decision relates to ensuring female law graduates are not exploited. The Justice Ministry approved a three-year law diploma that will grant the graduate – male or female – a license to practice the profession upon completion.
This raft of new decisions comes at a time when traditional gender roles in Saudi Arabia are undergoing a significant shift.
The number of female employees working in the private sector rose from 215,000 in 2012 to 496,000 in 2016, a study based on figures from Saudi’s Ministry of Labour and Social Development found.
As part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, the post-oil economy plan, the government aims to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020.