A member of Saudi Arabia’s consultative Shoura Council is reportedly seeking an end to the kingdom’s male guardianship system for women.
Shoura Human Rights Committee member Dr Eqbal Darandari told Arab News that recent progress in empowering women through the lifting of a driving ban next year should be continued.
She said in particular the requirement for women to seek the permission of a male guardian – a male relative or husband – for permission to travel should be revoked as they prepare to get behind the wheel from June 24, 2018.
“I am for justice, and there’s a lot of injustice against some women due to misconstrued traditions and practices, and limited religious outlooks, putting women in harm’s way as a result,” she was quoted as saying.
“I don’t think allowing women to travel will lead to an increase in the number of girls’ escape cases, which often occurs in broken homes lacking familial compatibility.”
Darandari told the publication it was unreasonable to treat younger generations of girls who believe they have the right to independence in the same way as older generations.
In particular she expressed that anyone who reached adulthood was responsible enough for their actions and would not need a guardian.
She added: “Does a 40-year-old woman need the consent of her minor son? Can a conservative father refuse his daughter’s travels for education or treatment? What sort of message are we trying to send to the world?”
Under the Vision 2030 reforms, the Saudi government has been pushing for women to play a more active role in society and the economy.
Reforms over the last two years have seen new job roles opened to women and government support offered for those seeking work including transport and childcare
Next year women will also be allowed into stadiums for the first time.