For decades, Saudi women were banned from driving, traveling without the permission of a male guardian, and applying for passports. Things have definitely changed this year, though, as the country held a checklist of civil and human rights with an eye fixated on women and started checking the box near the "granted rights."
However, despite all the positive changes, the concept of "controlling women" via the country's male guardianship system remains present. It's true that parts of the system were dismantled but its continued existence negates Saudi Arabia's mission to empower women.
Coupled with the country's strict social codes, the system means there are so many things women will still be unable to do as we head towards the year 2020.
Here are a few of them:
1. Get married without a male guardian's permission
Women in Saudi Arabia cannot get married if their male guardian- usually a father, brother, or uncle - doesn't grant them approval. This means millions of adult women in the kingdom are still unable to make this very personal decision.
Last month, the country's Human Rights Commission (HRC) raised alarm over legal guardians using this rule to prevent their daughters from getting married.
In a recent statement to StepFeed, Lamees, a Saudi social worker, said some guardians prevent marriages for their own personal benefit.
"The cases I've seen or heard of include situations where male guardians tried to prevent their daughters from marrying because they didn't approve of the men who had proposed to them. We also witness cases where parents refuse to accept marriages over dowry disputes," she explained.
2. Socialize with men who aren't their relatives
It's illegal for both men and women to mingle in public if they're not related to each other. If it is to happen, women will be more chastised for it than men.
Noura, a Saudi activist who works with victims of abuse, explained to us that, in some cases, if a woman is caught with a man who isn't related to her she could face death.
"This is the double standard we're stuck with, what's allowed for men isn't for women. Let's say a man gets caught with a girl he isn't related to, he could be jailed as per laws here but when he's out, he's fine. That's not the case for women because their life hangs in the balance when it comes to similar cases," she said.
The country applies very strict gender segregation rules in most of its public spaces including schools and universities.
3. Open a bank account
Saudi women still need a male guardian's permission to open a bank account or process financial documents.
This isn't related to specific laws implemented in the country but is customarily applied by local banks, according to The New York Times. Banks in Saudi also require a guardian's approval for a woman to apply for a loan or credit card.
4. Pass on citizenship to their children
The kingdom has yet to grant women their right to pass on nationality. This has made the situation pretty complex for thousands of children born to Saudi mothers and non-Saudi fathers.
Many of these children reside in the kingdom but have to apply for residency just as any other expat would. Given that the country implements the kafala system, these kids cannot obtain residency permits in the country unless they are sponsored by a Saudi national. Usually, they're sponsored by their mothers but if the latter passes away, another Saudi sponsor must take that role.
The struggles that Saudi women married to foreigners have to face prompted the country's Shoura Council to call on the urgent passing of a bill granting them the right to give their children permanent residency in the country.
5. File legal complaints
Saudi women can't file legal complaints without permission from a male guardian. Activists say that in most cases of domestic violence, male guardians are the abusers which renders this entire reporting system useless.
According to The New York Times, women in Saudi Arabia "are not guaranteed" fair trials and their witness statements carry half the weight of men's.
6. Try out clothes in store fitting rooms
In Saudi Arabia, women aren't allowed to try on clothes while shopping because female fitting rooms are practically non-existent in the majority of shopping outlets across the kingdom.
That's mainly due to the fact that most sales staff are male. Many in the kingdom are understandably frustrated with this rule especially because it doesn't apply to men.
In a previous interview with StepFeed, Lara, a Lebanese expat based in the kingdom, spoke about this specific point, saying:
"I've been to so many stores where there are men's fitting rooms but none for us. It's as sexist as anything can get and it needs to change in cities across the kingdom, not just in a few. What's the big deal if there's a fitting room for women in a store?" she added.
7. Wear what they want
8. Live on their own without needing permission
Women in the country are allowed to buy and rent out properties in their own names. However, they're still not granted their right of choosing to live on their own without the permission of a male guardian.
Social norms that exist in the kingdom also make it very hard for single women to find housing without a male relative being with them.