More women’s rights in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia will let divorced women and widows manage family affairs without approval from a man or a court order, a state-aligned newspaper said Wednesday, a major step to lift some of the legal powers men hold over female relatives. Under the late King Abdullah, the autocratic Islamic kingdom made some reforms to give women more rights, but these remain severely restricted. Efforts to emancipate women are held back by a powerful clergy and an ultraconservative society. The Al Riyadh newspaper said the Interior Ministry would issue family identity cards not only to men, but also to divorcees and widows, granting them powers that will include accessing records, registering children for schools and authorizing medical procedures. The newspaper did not give a date for the move. In a country where men hold legal powers over female relatives in almost all their interactions with the state, the change will significantly change the lives of divorced or widowed women, particularly for those bringing up children alone”.

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