“I am my own guardian” reads the above captions. Borrowed from a Saudi artist who goes by the name Ms. Saffaa, this slogan has become the highlight of the latest campaign by Saudi women.
In this past year, Saudi women have shown to be the majority of students in university, are rising to senior positions in business, and for the first time ever, have participated in elections.
But above it all, one thing that ties them down, the thing that affects their individuality the most is male guardianship. Legally, women need permission from a male guardian (father, husband, son) to marry, travel, or work.
— Ms Saffaa (@MsSaffaa) September 15, 2016
Following the hashtag movement in July, which translated to “Saudi women want to abolish the guardian system” other hashtags and campaigns have started all over Saudi Arabia calling to abolish male guardianship. The latest, sending telegrams to King Salman.
Hundreds of telegrams went to the King with the same message. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), activists chose to use telegrams because they can be tracked until they are delivered and can be traced back to the sender so the participants can show they are Saudis.
A petition was also started to end male guardianship with around 14,700 signatures which activist, Aziza al-Yousef delivered the petition in person to the royal court.
One woman reports to WSJ that she went to three telegram offices who all refused to send her telegram.
It is her legal right — and finally, the supervisor did it. Despite the resistance, women are hopeful.
Earlier this year, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said in an interview with Bloomberg:
“I just want to remind the world that American women had to wait long to get their right to vote. So we need time. We have taken many steps. In King Salman’s time, women were able to vote for the first time and 20 women won in these elections. Women can now work in any sector. In business and commerce, as a lawyer, in the political field and in all sectors. Women can carry out any jobs they want. What is left is that we support women for the future and I don’t think there are obstacles we can’t overcome…We look at citizens in general and women are half of this society and we want it to be a productive half.”