First Published: 2003-12-30

Saudi women ask for greater rights

Hundreds of professional Saudi women petition Crown Prince for greater rights, independence from guardian.


Middle East Online

They also want to reach a senior level in ministries

MANAMA - More than 300 women from across Saudi Arabia, most of them professionals with university degrees, have petitioned Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, for greater rights.

In the petition, the women list eight demands centred on recognition of their contribution to civil society, without the need for "judicial guardianship or support".

Calling for a supreme council to oversee women's affairs, the petition also presses women's rights to "education and jobs ... without needing permission" from a guardian.

Saudi women are allowed to study or work only with the explicit agreement of a male relative.

The petition also calls for "women to reach a senior level in ministries and government institutions" and for "competent women to be appointed at a senior and decision-making level".

Although Riyadh is a signatory to an international convention banning gender discrimination, in line with strict application of Islamic Sharia law, women are not allowed to drive.

Saudi women can only leave their homes veiled in black. They cannot travel without permission from their husband or a male member of their family.

Neither are they allowed to eat alone in restaurants.


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