A Giant Step Forward

The fences of embargoes are being removed slowly. Now, the Saudi women do not need the permission of their male guardians to start own businesses.
Riyadh recently made an announcement in this regard. The Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment has confirmed that it made some changes in the country’s guardianship system, saying on its website: “Women can now launch their own businesses and benefit from (governmental) e-services without having to prove consent from a guardian.” Previously, women had to present proof of permission from a male “guardian” – usually the husband, father or brother – to do any government paperwork, travel or enrol in classes under the guardianship system.

Social activists have welcomed the move, as they believe that the change will allow women to enjoy more freedom in the West Asian country, where half of the population has been trying hard to come out of the strict restrictions for long. Experts are of the opinion that Saudi Arabia is trying to create job opportunities for women, as Riyadh has a plan to reform the private sector. Long dependent on crude production for generating revenue, the West Asian nation has decided to expand the private sector as a part of its reform plan for a post-oil era. The kingdom has already created 140 positions for women at different airports and border crossings. The Commerce and Investment Ministry said that it received 107,000 applications from women for these positions.

The Crown Prince

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – currently leading the drive to expand the role of women in the workforce – had announced in October 2017 that his aim was to build a “moderate and open” Saudi Arabia. Going against the ultra-conservative clerics, he made clear that he would do everything to attract foreign investors and to create job opportunities for Saudi youths.
The Crown Prince’s father, King Salman lifted a decades-long ban on driving in September 2017, allowing women to drive cars (from June this year). Prince Mohammed is widely considered as the chief architect behind Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ reform programme.

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