As the world marks on Monday International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Saudi Arabia has taken reform steps to preserve, promote and protect women’s rights.
Earlier this year, the Saudi cabinet had approved amendments to the travel and civil status documents system, allowing women to apply for passports and travel without the need for a legal guardian. They have also been granted the right to travel when they turn 21.
Under the new amendments, women now have right to apply for a family register and notification of death. The retirement age of women was also increased to 60 years, equal to men.
Human Rights Commission (HRC) President Awwad al-Awwad stressed that women’s rights in the Kingdom have witnessed an unprecedented qualitative transformation due to the historic decisions made by the leadership.
He announced that of the 60 decisions on human rights, women’s rights formed more than a third, with 22 decisions.
Women have become a major partner in the building and sustainable development of the nation, he said during the opening session of the symposium on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women organized by HRC.
With the new changes, women no longer have to obtain their guardian’s consent when providing or terminating any service. A regulation that protects women from harassment was issued. The government also established a center to receive reports on domestic violence and set up a Family Affairs Council and committees to look into women’s affairs.
The reforms also included setting up courts in the Personal Status Department to look into family cases, issuing driving licenses to men and women alike, and setting up units for the employment of women in labor offices and Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf).
The Children’s Care Center, Qurrah, was also launched to babysit working women’s children. A women’s transportation program, Wussool, was also set up. Women can now apply to new fields of employment, which they were never allowed to work in before, such the Public Prosecution.
Saudi lawyer Bayan Zahran highlighted decisions that empower women’s personal status laws and safeguarding their rights, most notably the mother’s priority to the custody of her children.
Zahran told Asharq Al-Awsat that implementation has become strict in regards to alimony, which now favors women.