More than a year after granting women the right to drive, the Saudi Arabian government announced Friday that women over the age of 21 would be allowed apply for passports and travel abroad without permission from a male "guardian." The Saudi Cabinet announced the regulatory changes Friday, signaling a huge win for women's rights activists around the world.
As pointed out by Al Jazeera, the amendment has weakened the Saudi government's oppressive "guardianship" system, a mix of laws and customs that "renders adult women as legal minors." Under this structure, women must obtain consent from a male guardian—typically a father or husband—to obtain basic entitlements.
The regulatory changes also allow women to register a marriage, divorce or child's birth as well as the right to serve as a minor's legal guardian. They also allow women to be issued official family documents, and prohibits employers from discriminatory hiring practices based on sex, age or handicaps.
"These developments have been a long time coming. From the inclusion of women in the consultative council to issuing driving licenses to women, our leadership has proved its unequivocal commitment to gender equality," tweeted Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia's first female ambassador to the U.S. "These new regulations are history in the making. They call for the equal engagement of women and men in our society. It is a holistic approach to gender equality that will unquestionably create real change for Saudi women."
Though it's unclear when these changes will go into effect, many have gone to social media to praise the decrees and to congratulate the women of Saudi Arabia.