Mohammed bin Salman on Saudi women’s rights and the guardianship laws

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said there was no difference between men and women in Islam and that half of Saudi Arabia's population were made up of women and that they were paid equally to their male counterparts in the public sector.

The crown prince’s statements on women’s rights in Saudi Arabia came during his interview with The Atlantic’s Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg published on Monday.

“I support Saudi Arabia, and half of Saudi Arabia is women. So I support women,” he said, adding that “in the Saudi government women are paid exactly like men. We have regulations like this that are going into the private sector. We don’t want divided treatment for different people”.

Regarding the country’s guardianship laws, which stipulate for example a woman needing her male relative’s permission to travel, the Saudi crown prince said those didn’t exist before 1979.

“Before 1979 there were societal guardianship customs, but no guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia. It doesn’t go back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. In the 1960s women didn’t travel with male guardians. But it happens now, and we want to move on it and figure out a way to treat this that doesn’t harm families and doesn’t harm the culture,” he told The Atlantic.

On September 26, 2017, Saudi King Salman ordered the issuance of driver's licenses for women in Saudi Arabia which comes into effect in June 2018.

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