Saudi Arabia has been making major improvements when it comes to women's rights, but there's a long way to go. One of the things women in the country still lack is their right to freedom of movement.
According to Human Rights Watch, Saudi women "cannot apply for a passport or travel outside the country without their male guardian's approval."
Over the weekend, the continued implementation of this specific rule was highlighted in a tweet posted by Saudi lawyer Dr. Badr Al Shwaier. In his post, Shwaier pointed out the irony of wanting to empower women yet restricting their movements.
"A Saudi woman is now an ambassador, a deputy minister, an assistant minister, a member of the council for education, a member of the Shura council etc. Legal authorities must reevaluate the existing laws governing women traveling. These legislations must consider a woman's age, job, and social status. There are thousands of cases in court where women are applying for permission to travel."
His opinion wasn't exactly popular among everyone. However, many agreed with his tweet, asking for Saudi women's full rights.
"We don't want women to travel without permission"
"A woman can't travel without a male guardian. This is God's sharia, don't even discuss it"
Many thought Al Shwaier's post was missing this
"Legal authorities must reevaluate the existing laws governing women traveling, without any condition, for those who are above the legal age."
"They must consider her rights as a human being regardless of her job or social status"
"Can you even fathom what's happening? A human being is banned from traveling for no reason"
"Just because they're born women! If a woman has no family, she has to get permission from a judge who doesn't even know her! What's this hell Saudi women are living in! Mohamed bin Salman must intervene to change this right away."
"I don't know why this is taking so long to change"
"These are basic things that should've been resolved long before I was born."
A closer look at the reforms made to Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system
Despite the fact that major changes to laws governing women were made in recent months, Saudi women still can't travel without permission.
In 2017, a positive change was announced by King Salman, who ordered government agencies to allow women to access government services without a male guardian's consent.
In recent years, the kingdom announced the drafting of "new regulations that would see women travel without the permission of their guardians." However, none of these new travel laws have been implemented yet.
Male guardians still need to issue travel permits for their underage children, wives, daughters, and sisters in order for them to be allowed out of the country. Most do that through a controversial application called Absher.
At the moment, women who aren't given permission to travel by their guardians often end up filing court cases, asking judges to grant them the required authorization.
Many consider ending the travel permission law to be controversial because the legislation is tied to a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic sharia, which states women shouldn't travel without a male guardian.
Last year, the country's Shura Council rejected a proposal aimed at overturning the restrictive rule. The same proposition was brought forth at the authority's meeting just last week but was also turned down.
Nevertheless, activists and women in the kingdom continue to fight for their right to free movement.