The women's rights movement in Saudi Arabia has been on Nicki Minaj's radar as of late, and the most recent update definitely did not go unnoticed.
Last week, the kingdom announced that Saudi women over the age of 21 will no longer need the permission of a male guardian to travel or apply for passports.
Among those who celebrated the game-changing decision was the U.S.-based rapper from Trinidad, none other than Minaj, who had canceled her performance in Jeddah last month in a show of solidarity with women's rights, LGBTIQ+ rights, and freedom of expression.
Last Friday, Saudi Arabia issued royal decrees that loosened restrictions on women, particularly when it comes to travel and family affairs. In addition to traveling and issuing passports freely, women are now allowed to register a marriage, divorce, or child's birth, as well as obtain official family documents. Plus, the new laws stipulate that either a father or a mother can be the legal guardian of a child.
Minaj was quick to take note of the decision and retweeted a tweet announcing the changes. She then criticized media outlets for selectively publishing updates that work in favor of their respective agendas and failing to post positive news about the region, and thus called upon them to spread the news about the new Saudi laws.
She then commented on a post giving her credit for influencing the recent changes by pulling out of the Jeddah World Fest back in July. Minaj said she was "not sure" whether she played a role in the decision, yet noted her appreciation of outlets spreading the news.
This comes as Minaj had been scheduled to take the stage at the Jeddah World Fest on July 18. However, she cancelled her concert following external pressures, particularly from the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) that urged her and other performers to back out of the show.
"After careful reflection, I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest," she told the Associated Press at the time.
"I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression," she explained.
"There's still a long way to go but this made me happy"
For years, Saudi women have been demanding the complete and total shutdown of the male guardianship system, a legal code influenced by a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic Sharia. During the past couple of years, Saudi Arabia has amended a number of laws in an effort to empower women in the kingdom, including opening municipal elections to female candidates, making women's verbal consent to marriage mandatory, and granting them the right to drive.
Recent amendments have alleviated men's control over the lives of their female relatives, but Saudi women continue to face social and legal restrictions in many aspects of their public and personal lives. "While this law weakens the guardianship system in the country, it is far from eliminating it," the HRF wrote.
Among other constraints, women still require male consent to get married, live on their own, or leave prison and domestic abuse shelters. They are also not entitled to pass on citizenship to their children nor provide consent for the latter to marry.