Saudi Arabia will be allowing female to travel abroad without approval from a male, the government said on Thursday, ending a restriction that drew international censure and prompted extreme attempts to flee the kingdom.
The landmark reform erodes the longstanding guardianship system that renders adult women as legal minors and allows their “guardians” to exercise arbitrary authority over them.
The decision, following years of campaigning by activists, comes after high-profile attempts by women to escape their guardians despite a string of reforms including a historic decree last year that overturned the world’s only ban on female motorists.
“A passport will be granted to any Saudi national who submits an application,” said a government ruling published in the official gazette Umm al-Qura.
The regulation effectively allows women over the age of 21 to obtain passports and leave the country without their guardian’s permission, the pro-government.
The decision was met with jubilation on social media, with the hashtag “No guardianship over women travel” gaining traction and many posting humorous memes of women fleeing with suitcases and being chased by men.
The changes announced Thursday also grant Saudi women the right to officially register childbirth, marriage or divorce and to be recognised as a guardian to children who are minors.