Source: Wikipedia

A couple of months ago, Saudi Arabia became the first country to ever grant citizenship to a humanoid robot. Turns out, that same robot, who goes by the name Sophia, is a major supporter of women's rights. 

"Sophia is a big advocate for women’s rights, for rights of all human beings," said David Hanson, CEO of Hanson Robotics, the firm that developed Sophia, in an interview with CNBC. 

"She has been reaching out about women's rights in Saudi Arabia and about rights for all human beings and all living beings on this planet."

In October, Sophia became the first humanoid to be given the Saudi nationality, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman presented her with a Saudi passport during the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh. 


Soon after Sophia was granted the Saudi citizenship, many were outraged at the fact that a "robot" has more rights than women in the kingdom. 

The fact that Sophia appeared without a hijab and abaya when delivering her first public speech sparked a discussion among people at the time. 

"The only type of women Saudi Arabia gives full rights to...a robot one, and a foreigner at that," one Twitter user wrote at the time. 

"Sophia is allowed to do more things than the real women in that country"

"I want to become Sophia one day and get my rights"

Is Sophia a stepping stone to a major shift in women's rights in the kingdom?

Saudi Arabia has been taking major steps to improve the status of women in the kingdom. 

In September, Saudi Arabia announced that women in the kingdom will finally be allowed to drive. The decision is expected to be fully implemented by June 2018. 

In 2016, Saudi Arabia amended a number of laws in an effort to empower women, including opening municipal elections to female candidates and making women's verbal consent to marriage mandatory.

Earlier this year, King Salman issued a new royal decree, giving women the right to apply for work permits, medical, and educational services – without male consent. 

Previously, women needed a guardian's written approval before any government department could process their applications.

However, the kingdom's male guardianship system - which subjects women to full dependence on their fathers, brothers, husbands, or sometimes even sons, in nearly all aspects of public life - has been heavily criticized. 

Will Sophia be able to change all of this?