On Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Commerce and Investment officially announced that women will no longer need their male guardian’s permission to start a business.

The spokesperson of the ministry, Abdul Rahman Al Hussein, tweeted the regulation change under an Arabic hashtag that translates to '#no_need', according to Arab News.

"No need for a guardian’s permission. Saudi women are free to start their own business freely," he said.

The widely-trending hashtag forms part of an initiative to streamline business setup procedures by allowing key registration processes to be conducted electronically.

Under the new system, women and men will be treated equally when it comes to setting up and starting a business. In addition, government agencies will no longer require the consent of a male guardian to complete procedures.

"Women can practice all their commercial transactions in the Ministry of Commerce and Investment without a guardian or a notary," Al Hussein told the media outlet.

The easing of restrictions on starting a business comes under the kingdom’s reform drive to diversify the economy and allow women to play a more active role Saudi society.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Flag
Source: Britannica

The kingdom is pushing for major reforms

In September 2017, Saudi Arabia announced it will allow women to drive, ending the long-standing policy that had been criticised by international campaigners and women’s groups.

At the time, the move was confirmed on state television and by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The royal decree, which was signed off by King Salman, mandated the creation of a ministerial body to give advice on the practicalities of the order within 30 days and a full implementation of the order by June 2018.

A month later, in October 2017, in an official statement that was made by the Saudi General Sports Authority, the kingdom announced that it will allow women to attend sporting events in stadiums starting 2018, an announcement that joins a series of groundbreaking reforms addressing the status of women in the kingdom.

Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has amended a number of laws in an effort to empower women. 

These include opening municipal elections to female candidates and making women's verbal consent to marriage mandatory. 

The Saudi Shura Council also announced an amendment to laws governing travel documents, giving women a right to obtain a passport without male permission. 

For years, the male guardianship system has also been seen as a hindrance to women's progress, but a royal decree from King Salman in May suggested that the patriarchal systems' days are coming to en end. 

Women are rising in the Saudi private and public sector

Increasing women's participation in business and education is also a key part of the Vision 2030 plan championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

Last year, numerous women were appointed to high financial and business positions within the kingdom. In February 2017, three Saudi women took over top financial posts in Saudi Arabia. 

Among them is Sarah Al Suhaimi, who was appointed as head of the Saudi stock exchange, making international headlines as the first woman to ever chair Tadawul.

Addressing women's rights is a major goal of the crown prince's agenda, which aims to transform Saudi Arabia into a kingdom promoting "moderate Islam".