Women's Rights

Despite great strides made by the international women’s rights movement over many years, women and girls around the world are still married as children or trafficked into forced labor and sex slavery. They are refused access to education and political participation, and some are trapped in conflicts where rape is perpetrated as a weapon of war. Around the world, deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth are needlessly high, and women are prevented from making deeply personal choices in their private lives. Human Rights Watch is working toward the realization of women’s empowerment and gender equality—protecting the rights and improving the lives of women and girls on the ground.

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Saudi Arabia: End Male Guardianship

Saudi Arabia: End Male Guardianship

Under Saudi Arabia’s discriminatory male guardianship system, every woman must have a male guardian – a father, brother, husband, or even a son – who has the authority to make a range of critical decisions on her behalf. Women are required to receive guardian approval to apply for a passport, travel outside the country, study abroad on a government scholarship, get married, or even exit prison.

In April 2017, King Salman ordered all government agencies to allow women to access any government services without a male guardian’s consent unless existing regulations require it, and that government agencies provide a list within three months of procedures that require male guardian approval.