Is Saudi Arabia Planning to Abolish its Guardianship Laws?

Women’s travel restrictions might be coming to an end


For many of us around the world, travelling is as simple as booking a flight. Saudi women on the other hand have always faced constraint at the hand of the Kingdom’s guardianship system, which stipulates a designated male relative’s permission to do so.

But things are looking up. In a report by the Wall Street Journal, senior government officials have announced plans to end the law. According to the report, the proposed plans would lift all restrictions for women over the age of 18 later this year. The lift of the guardianship system would also grant men under the age of 21 the right to travel without their family’s consent.

As it currently stands, Saudi women are unable to marry, work or travel outside of the country without permission from their fathers, brothers or husbands (in some cases even their sons). Saudi women also cannot apply for a passport without their approval.

The move comes after the Kingdom announced the formation of an investigative committee last month to look into the misuse of the guardianship system by men against women.

If the new plans take effect, the move would mark the biggest reform to take place in Saudi Arabia since the lift of the women’s driving ban that took effect last June. The Saudi Arabian government has yet to make an official statement regarding the matter, though the Wall Street Journal’s report sites sources from “close to the top”.

Share this article