People took to Twitter, using the hashtag #TogetherToEndMaleGuardianship, to show their support and demand social reform.
Currently women are not allowed to make major lifestyle decisions without the permission of their male guardians. The prohibition covers issues such as travelling abroad, getting married and wanting to work.
After the initial success of the English hashtag, an Arabic translation soon followed. The pair have since been used in over 170,000 tweets, causing both to trend on Twitter in Saudi Arabia, according to Vocativ
— Steve S.J. Lee (@steveleesj) September 2, 2016
— Sinner (@SuppressedWomen) August 15, 2016
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) July 18, 2016
can't study abroad without a stupid signature from a man, how is it acceptable to crash my dreams and future? #TogetherToEndMaleGuardianship
— alaa 🏳️🌈 (@lolitaxo_) July 31, 2016
The campaign was promoted by Human Rights Watch (HRW), who authored a report claiming the state directly enforces the guardianship system.
“The male guardianship system is the most significant impediment to realising women’s rights in the country, effectively rendering adult women legal minors who cannot make key decisions for themselves,” HRW said in a report on the issue.
Under increasing pressure from women’s rights activists, the Saudi government agreed to get rid of male guardianship in 2009 and again in 2013 but the system remains mostly intact.