Every small step towards gender equality counts

Updated: Aug 05, 2019, 08:15 IST | A correspondent

The new rule announced on Friday allows women over the age of 21 to apply for a passport without authorisation

Every small step towards gender equality counts

Since we live in a global world, the Internet has blurred borders and shrunk the world like never before. This is the reason why the recent rule where in women in Saudi Arabia can travel abroad without a male guardian's permission, evoked huge reaction and debate.

The new rule announced on Friday allows women over the age of 21 to apply for a passport without authorisation. This rule gives women some agency and is one step forward in defining their existence without their relationship to men.

While skeptics may scoff saying that the Saudi Arabia is still light years away from gender justice, there is some elation as this rule follows the easing of some other restrictions on women, the recent most prominent of course is the right to drive.

The move towards a more egalitarian society must be seen through a prism. This may very well be Saudi Arabia's campaign after its image over human rights has taken a battering recently.

The most recent is the murder of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi last year. Then, in January 2019, an 18 year-old Saudi woman flew to Thailand and barricaded herself in a hotel while appealing on Twitter for help to avoid deportation. She has since been granted asylum in Canada.

Every small step counts. The barriers to human rights which are women's rights need to fall everywhere. A more gender just world means a better world.

Let us move ahead towards more reforms. For Saudi Arabia we want to see no enforced dress code (the hijab, abaya) for women, here, we must take our fight to no more nikah halala or polygamy.

These may be different frontiers and different fights. In the end all that matters is a more egalitarian society. More power to that.

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