In a surprising move, women in Saudi Arabia have been given the go-ahead to start businesses without the permission of a male guardian, the Saudi government announced.
Whereas in the past women needed a guardian’s approval and had to visit a notary to document the founding of a company, from Sunday a new system will carry out all start-up procedures electronically, with no special permissions required.
The move is part of a shift inside a strongly conservative kingdom to offer more freedom to women and more broadly, to reshape Saudi culture along more secular, modern lines.
In keeping with the spirit of modernisation, the announcement was made via Twitter. “No need for a guardian’s position. Saudi women are free to start their own businesses freely,” read a tweet posted by a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce and investment, followed by a hashtag: #No_Need.
Saudi women make up just a fraction of the labour force in the country, but their participation in the economy is rising fast. In July 2017, the country’s Ministry of Labour and Social Development announced that women accounted for 30 per cent of the private sector workforce – a rise of 130 per cent over the previous four years