Saudi Arabia allows women to travel without approval of male 'guardian'

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Two Saudis who sought asylum in the UK explain why they risked everything

"I am elated to confirm that KSA will be enacting amendments to its labour and civil laws that are created to elevate the status of Saudi women within our society, including granting them the right to apply for passports and travel independently", she said in a series of tweets. Meanwhile, it is not that everyone will accept the new policy; there is a possibility of conservative Saudis disapproving it and the guardianship will continue to remain popular among several men and women who say they view it as a religious mandate that protects women.

Saudi women fleeing domestic abuse and the guardianship system occasionally drew worldwide attention to their plight, being dubbed "runaways" for escaping the kingdom and seeking asylum overseas.

The Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman has been making changes in the laws of the country to show that he is an avid supporter of women's rights and to make Saudi Arabia more modernised.

"It means not only we are equal to men from a human rights perspective but on a practical level it will help women move, do their businesses, attend conferences and learn and be empowered further". understands the new regulation has also given Saudi women the right to register childbirth, marriage or divorce.

By easing restrictions on the ability of women to drive, start a business, obtain necessary legal documents and now travel, he is setting the stage for their full participation in the economy.

But many women activists who long campaigned to dismantle the guardianship system are now on trial after being arrested past year in a sweeping crackdown on dissent or face a travel ban.

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The nomination of Al-Saud as a female ambassador reflects bin Salman's plan to increase the number of women in the workforce - in recent years, a limited number of women have been allowed to pursue more jobs and even senior government positions.

The change in the law allows women over the age of 21 to apply for a passport without a male sponsor and to leave Saudi Arabia unaccompanied.

But, Williams reports, Saudi Arabia is still a long way from being a free country.

Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the U.S., on Friday morning said she was "elated" to confirm the new changes to the country's labour and civil law.

Saudi Arabia is the most gender-segregated society in the world. Previously the ban on women driving was lifted. They still can not pass on citizenship to their children, or provide consent for their children to marry.

Still, the reforms have been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, including the alleged torture of some of the activists arrested for campaigning to improve women's rights.

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