IV. Recommendations

To the Government of Saudi Arabia

To King Abdullah bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Al Sa’ud

  • Promulgate by royal decree the dismantling of the legal guardianship system for adult women, guaranteeing that women are considered to have reached full legal capacity at 18 years of age. In the interim, ensure that all government agencies no longer request permission from a guardian to allow adult women to work, travel, study, marry, receive health care, or access any public service.
  • Appoint a committee tasked with examining the ways in which strict sex segregation prevents Saudi women from fully participating in public life.
  • Establish an independent body tasked with monitoring the implementation of laws, royal decrees, and ministerial decisions that advance women’s rights, including decisions that limit a guardian’s authority, and create female sections in all government offices.
  • Appoint women as full members to the consultative council to ensure that women in the kingdom have a voice in decision making.
  • Sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
  • Lift reservations made upon acceding to CEDAW, which violate the object and purpose of the treaty.  
  • Implement the recommendation made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child to seek technical assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the World Health Organization to support efforts to address violence against women and children.
  • Establish an independent mechanism with a mandate to regularly monitor and evaluate progress in the implementation of CEDAW and the Convention on the Rights of the Child at the national and local levels.

To the Ministry of Interior

  • Issue clear and explicit directives to all police stations allowing women to enter the station and file a complaint without the presence or approval of a guardian.
  • Revise Saudi travel regulations to remove any barriers specifically imposed on female travelers. 
  • Amend Section 8 of the Civil Affairs Law requiring women to get permission from a guardian in order to acquire a separate identification card for themselves or their children. Publicize widely any decisions that have been taken to eliminate this requirement, and ensure that all civil servants are aware of any new regulations in this area. 
  • Eliminate any restrictions on female driving in the kingdom, ensuring that women are afforded the same opportunities to drive and acquire a driver’s license as men. The ministry should also approve a system of public transportation for women who cannot afford a car or driver. 

To the Ministry of Higher Education

  • Issue clear and explicit directives to all academic institutions prohibiting staff from requesting a guardian’s permission to allow a woman to be admitted for any course of study, or from removing a female student from her program at the request of a male relative.
  • Uphold the rights of female university students to freedom of movement by removing the need for a male guardian’s permission to allow students over the age of 18 to leave university grounds.  

To the Ministry of Labor

  • Issue clear and explicit directives to all places of employment prohibiting staff from requesting a guardian’s presence or permission to allow a woman to work, or from removing a female employee from her position at the request of a male relative. 
  • Remove any special procedures imposed on female business owners, including the need for a male proxy to conduct business and the need for permission from a guardian to access a loan.   

To the Ministry of Health

  • Issue clear and explicit directives to all government hospitals and private clinics prohibiting their staff from requesting a guardian’s presence or permission to allow a female adult patient to be admitted, discharged, or receive care of any kind.
  • Ensure that the Patient’s Bill of Rights explicitly affords female patients in the kingdom the same access to health care as male patients.    

To the Ministry of Justice

  • Ensure that women are afforded the same rights as men to file a case, testify in court on all matters, including criminal matters, and speak on their own behalf in the courtroom.
  • Establish women’s sections in all courtrooms and in the Ministry of Justice’s headquarters in Riyadh in order to ensure that women have equal access to justice and no longer need to bring a relative to identify them in court.
  • Eliminate restrictions on the appointment of women as judges, members of the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution, and law enforcement officers. Ensure that all female lawyers who wish to practice law can obtain lawyers’ licenses.
  • Ensure the right of all adults to freely enter into marriage. The ministry should also instruct judges not to accept law suits from third parties seeking to judicially divorce couples.
  • Ensure that upon divorce, custody is determined on the basis of the best interests of the child in line with international standards. The ministry should ensure that during a marriage and following a divorce, both parents should have equal rights to open bank accounts for their children, enroll them in school, obtain school files, or travel with them. 

To Governments with Final or Pending Free Trade Agreements with Saudi Arabia

  • Condition the ratification of free trade agreements with the government of Saudi Arabia on improved protection for women’s rights. In particular, insist that prior to adoption of the agreements, Saudi Arabia dismantle the legal guardianship system that denies Saudi women their most basic rights.
  • Include in free trade agreements with the government of Saudi Arabia strong, binding, and enforceable women’s rights provisions that require that the kingdom’s laws and policies conform to international human rights standards.