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Saudi women will struggle to dictate pace of reform

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Significance

The measures represent a milestone in the ongoing process of easing restrictive rules which make women legally dependent on husbands or male relatives. However, several leading women’s rights activists remain in prison for their campaigning work.

Impacts

  • The move will serve Riyadh’s aim of encouraging more women to work and start businesses, and may help attract expatriate talent.
  • Whether women will be granted the ability to choose their marriage partner remains uncertain and would be more contentious.
  • Visible reactions will be firmly in favour of the latest move, owing to heavy political pressure to support the government.
  • Some opposition will be quietly felt by conservatives who want to preserve traditional male power over female relatives.
  • Riyadh will use advances in women’s rights to deflect criticism over lacking political freedoms.
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