Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, has taken many steps to reform and modernize Saudi Arabia since he became Crown Prince in June 2017.
Since coming to power, he has brought many changes including empowering women, allowing them to drive and go out, to do business and providing job opportunities in all sectors.
The new king of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, has changed the new vision of 2030 for the movement of the country. Women can now travel without the permission of their relatives or guardians, register for divorce and become guardians of minor children.
Further, they opened up opportunities for women to work in various professions such as medicine, teaching, business, and law. Some jobs that were historically restricted to men, such as service in restaurants and coffee shops, have also opened up to women.
Here is a short list of key reform for the betterment of women in the KSA:
- The status of women in (Al-Qur’an,) the holy book of Islam.
In Islam, both the Qur’an and the Prophet were friendly to women. As early as the fifteenth century, Islam encouraged women to participate in social, economic and political activities. It also gave women the right to marry, divorce, inherit, study, work and hold leadership positions. Additionally, it defined their rights in the context of family relationships. These rights have protected women and secured their dignity.
So we can firmly say that a society with an Islamic way of life will give women full social and personal rights
However, after the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, the Saudi government adopted a form of Islam that conflicted with traditional Islam. This form of Islam is historically known as Wahhabi Islam.
- Women in Saudi Arabia have entered a new era of creativity and empowerment.
Vision 2030 draws the future of Saudi Arabia on three pillars, all of which see women as partners who support and complement men. The deployment of female security guards at Masjid Nabawi has brought this issue to the fore once again. This plan falls under the Saudi leadership’s efforts to promote the role of women in the context of Vision 2030. Since the beginning of Islam, women have played important roles in social and humanitarian work and have taken up challenging tasks. Today, looking at the public and private sectors of Saudi Arabia, we see women in prominent roles.
All fields of work have been opened to women in the state. Saudi Arabia appointed its first female ambassador to the United States, Princess Reema bint al-Shahwan, and Amal al-Moalimi was ambassador to Norway in 2020. Vision 2030 illuminate’s new paths for Saudi women to advance in the journey of women’s culture
- Women can register for Hajj with women other than male guardians: Saudi Ministry
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj has announced that women can now register for the annual Muslim Hajj without a male guardian.
“Those who wish to perform Haj will have to register individually. Women can register with women other than a mahram (male guardian),
- Women can travel without the permission of a male guardian.
Women in Saudi Arabia can now apply for a passport without the approval of a male guardian. They also do not need a permit to cross the Saudi border, meaning they no longer have to be under 21 to travel. The changes come after criticism of Saudi Arabia’s travel system.
Saudi Arabia has made it easier for women to travel abroad and register births, marriages, divorces or deaths. This was only possible for men.
- Women can vote for the first time in municipal elections.
This was the first time women were allowed to vote and the third time they did so. The polling stations were still separate, but the women said it was great to be able to cast their ballots 17 women were elected.
- Women can now access basic rights such as education and health care without the permission of a male guardian.
Saudi Arabia’s women will be able to access education and healthcare without the prior approval of their male guardians. Saudi Arabia has long been known for limiting women’s rights through its strict male guardianship system. King Salman recently issued a decree that allows Saudi women to benefit from services such as education and health care.
- Women can do business without guardian’s permission
In February 2018, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Trade and Investment stated that women should be able to “start their own businesses without barriers” and face no more barriers to entrepreneurship than men.
Saudi legal consultant Dima Al-Sharif told Arab News that the country is “witnessing a new era in the empowerment of Saudi women, especially in the commercial sector.”
- Women can sit in the stadium and watch live games
A stadium in Saudi Arabia has become the first in the country to allow women to sit in the stands during a national football match. The stadium was earlier for men only and had special entrances designated for women and their families, but now all facilities are open to women.
- Women can now jog and exercise on the streets.
After years of being banned from competing in the country’s official marathon event, women are allowed to run in the marathon for the first time.
- Women’s dress code
Women must dress modestly, and tight clothing and see-through materials are prohibited. In 2018, the crown prince relaxed the dress code slightly and said that women do not have to wear the “Abaya” in public.
- Women have more right to education now.
Education is an interesting topic in the context of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Women and girls have the right to education in the state and the female and male literacy rates are 91% and 97% respectively. Actually women are getting higher education. In fact, more than 51% of university graduates are women.
- Family and divorcee low in Saudi Arabia.
In Saudi Arabia, men have the right to unilaterally divorce their wives while women have to go through a lengthy and expensive court process for divorce.
In 2019, the government passed a law allowing women to check online or receive news of their divorce via text message; Earlier, men could dissolve marriages without informing their wives.
- Breastfeeding laws in Saudi Arabia
Breastfeeding is widely encouraged in Saudi Arabia as the Quran dictates that new mothers should breastfeed their babies for the first two years. Most women in the state receive information about breastfeeding, and locals view the practice as positive.
- Women joining the Army and their promotion.
The Saudi Ministry of Defense has issued a rule allowing women to join the army from the rank of soldier to sergeant. The ruling also granted the right to join the Royal Saudi Air Defense, Royal Saudi Navy, Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force and Armed Forces Medical Service. The ruling was very controversial for a conservative society like Saudi Arabia.
- Sarah Al – Suhaimi
Sarah Al-Suhaimi, the first Saudi woman to chair the Kingdom’s stock exchange Tadawul. The Saudi Arabian Stock Exchange is the largest stock market in the Middle East.
He is a board member of Saudi Telecom Company (STC), the country’s largest telecom operator, and a trustee of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation.
Al-Suhaimi also serves on the board of directors of the Saudi Cultural Development Fund and Saudia Airlines.
- Basmah Al-Mayman
Basmah Al-Mayman is the Middle East Regional Director of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). She is the first woman in the organization’s history to lead the region. The Forbes list of the Middle East’s top 50 most influential and successful businesswomen also includes women from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait and Oman.
- Dress code for women tourists abroad
In 2019, new public modesty laws were introduced in Saudi Arabia, allowing visitors to dress in a more western style. That doesn’t mean you should wear whatever you think you should.
It would be wise for women to cover their bodies in public as much as possible. It is not compulsory for women to wear an Abaya (except when visiting religious places) or a headscarf, although we still recommend that you carry a pashmina with you at all times.
- KSA Women’s Football League has started
Saudi Arabia Football Federation has announced the launch of the Saudi Women’s Football League. The Women’s League started on 22nd November 2021. This is a landmark step for Saudi women footballers. This is the first Saudi Women’s Football League to start in the country’s history.
16 teams will play their matches in three cities Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam of Saudi Arabia
The chairman of Saudi Arabia’s first women’s football club was appointed at the club’s founding meeting, making her the country’s first women’s football club at the helm. Abrar Shaker became the president in the first founding meeting of the football club.
- Where can women wear bikinis abroad in Saudi Arabia?
If you stay in a villa with your own private pool, you can wear a bikini. Some private resorts in the Red Sea allow women to wear bikinis on the beach but when you’re not in the water, you’re expected to cover up. Whether it’s legal or not, we’d still recommend wearing a one-piece swimsuit and perhaps a burqa or Burkina outside of your own private home, and that includes trips to the pools of Western compounds.