Demand End to Guardianship System
by Sarah Aziza, Waging Nonviolence
In Saudi Arabia, a country many view as synonymous with gender discrimination, women are seeing signs of change. While a few top-down reforms have come in recent years—the right to vote in municipal elections, for example, was introduced by King Abdullah in 2011—many working at the grassroots level are agitating for more fundamental change. Over the summer, activists launched an online campaign calling for the dismantling of Saudi Arabia’s controversial "guardianship" system, which puts women under the authority of male relatives—something many see as a fundamental obstacle to women’s basic rights in the kingdom.
For the past several months, Saudi women and their supporters around the world have tweeted under the hashtag #سعوديات_نطالب_باسقاط_الولايه ("Saudi Women Demand the End [literal: downfall] of Guardianship"). The campaign has also used the English hashtags #IAmMyOwnGuardian and #StopEnslavingSaudiWomen to draw in international supporters, as well as local advocates. The goal, says long-time activist Aziza al-Yousef, is to gain Saudi women the right to be "full citizens… [each] responsible for her own acts." Alongside their tweets, activists circulated a petition calling for the end of the guardianship system, which has garnered over 14,000 signatures. On Sept. 26, activists, including al-Yousef, brought the petition in person to the royal court, where they were unable to deliver the document, but were directed to send it via mail.Continue ReadingSAUDI WOMEN PUSH FOR FULL RIGHTS