Women in Saudi Arabia can now open their own businesses without the consent of a husband or male relative, as the kingdom pushes to expand a fast-growing private sector.
The policy change, announced by the Saudi government on Thursday, also marks a major step away from the strict guardianship system that has ruled the country for decades.
“Women can now launch their own businesses and benefit from governmental e-services without having to prove consent from a guardian,” the ministry of commerce and investment said on its website.
Under Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system, women are required to present proof of permission from a male “guardian” normally the husband, father or brother to do any government paperwork, travel or enrol in classes.
Long dependent on crude production for economic revenue, Saudi Arabia is pushing to expand the country’s private sector, including an expansion of female employment under a reform plan for a post-oil era.
While women still face a host of restrictions in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor’s office this month said it would begin recruiting women investigators for the first time.