“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 changes 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. “These new regulations are history in the making. They call for the equal engagement of women and men in our society.These developments have been a long time coming,” Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s first female ambassador to the United States declared.
It was however unclear when the order will take effect. The reform grants women greater autonomy and mobility. Riyadh has long endured international censure over the status of women, who rights groups say are often treated as second-class citizens under rules requiring them to get the consent of a male guardian for important decisions throughout their entire lives, regardless of age. The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has eased social restrictions, such as lifting a driving ban for women last year, as part of a push to open up the conservative Muslim kingdom and transform the economy. Other parts of the system remain intact. Women still need permission from a male relative to marry or live on their own.