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A journey of easing restrictions towards Saudi Women: The complete timeline is here

There is a serious drive to free Saudi women society from decades long restrictions- Here is a dated 14-part listing

Saudi's passport department is receiving applications for women aged 21 and above to issue or renew passports and to travel outside the kingdom without permission In 2016, Saudi declared plans to boost women’s numbers in the workforce from 22% to 30% by 2030 Saudi officials have said women will be allowed to compete in the Q4, 2019 Riyadh international marathon.

As of yesterday August 20, 2019, Saudi women over the age of 21 are now allowed to receive passports and travel internationally without guardian permission.

"The passport department has started receiving applications for women aged 21 and above to issue or renew passports and to travel outside the kingdom without permission," the department said on Twitter.

Read: Women in Saudi to independently obtain passports and travel freely by end of August

The passports and civil status departments and their branches in all regions of the kingdom have started to implement the amendments stipulated in the royal decree," the SPA report said, citing an interior ministry source.

A Saudi newspaper reported that more than 1,000 women in the country's Eastern Province had left Saudi Arabia on Monday without their guardian's permission, in what appeared to be an early implementation of the new rules

This follows another decree allowing All Saudi students studying oversees to no longer need a permit from their guardians when they travel, even if they are under the age of 21

But the real story here is the long journey towards providing women with a series of decree-backed rights freeing their movements socially and professionally.

Read: One year after women began driving in Saudi Arabia, the economy is set to reap the benefits

Listing of Saudi women rights over recent years   

1-women could join Saudi Arabia’s workforce, beginning earlier this decade when the oil-rich nation began to allow women-only workplaces to operate.

Glowork was founded by Khalid Alkhudair, a Saudi national and seasoned KPMG executive, who, in the early 2010s advised the Panda chain of grocery stores to hire women cashiers.

Indian tech giants TCS and Wipro opened all-women Business Process Services (BPS) centres there in 2013 and 2017 respectively.

Just 23% of Saudi Arabia’s women are in the workforce today. Only 18% of women had jobs or were looking for one in 2010.

2- In March 2011, the late King Abdullah ruled that Saudis would be eligible for unemployment benefits for the first time ever.

3- In June 2011, the late King Abdullah decreed that lingerie shops would only be staffed by women. The Ministry of Labor then ordered stores that carried women products including cosmetics and wedding dresses, to hire all-female staff, a process the kingdom called “feminization”.

4- In 2012, two Saudi female athletes took part in the Summer Olympics in London.

5- In 2015, women were able to contest municipal elections with 20 Saudi women winning seats as councillors.

6- In 2016, Saudi declared plans to boost women’s numbers in the workforce from 22% to 30% by 2030. Saudi women outnumber men at Saudi universities- and constitute 51.8% of Saudi university students, with 551,000 women studying bachelor’s degrees compared to 513,000 men.

7- In April 2017, Saudi Arabia was voted in for a 4-year seat with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which promotes gender equality and female empowerment.

8- On 26 September 2017, the late King Salman issued an order to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia, with new guidelines to be created and implemented by June 2018. Bloomberg forecasts that women’s permission to drive could add nearly 1% to GDP a year until 2030, or $90 billion to the economy in that period.

9- In 2017, the Saudi Stock Exchange appointed Sarah Al-Suhaimi, chief executive of investment bank NCB Capital, as its first female chair.

10- Saudi Arabia introduced physical education for girls in 2017 and began granting licenses for women's gyms, allowing women to exercise publicly. King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah made history when allowed women to sit in the stands to view a national soccer game in January 2018. Saudi officials have said women will be allowed to compete in the Q4, 2019 Riyadh international marathon.

11- In February 2018, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Commerce and Investment said that women would be able to "start their own business freely," and no longer face more obstacles than men in becoming entrepreneurs.

12- Saudi Arabia's military opened applications to women for the first time in March 2018. But the criteria for applicants was and included specific height, weight, and education requirements.

13-  In February 2019, Princess Reema bint Bandar became Saudi’s first female ambassador ever as envoy to the United States.

14- On February 25, 2019, Tamadur bint Youssef al-Ramah  became the first to be appointed deputy Labor Minister.