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10 Historical Moments for Saudi Women in the Past 10 Years

A sweeping wave of women rights reforms have taken over Saudi Arabia during the past decade. Women's rights and female participation constitute a strong pillar in the Crown Prince’s powerful Vision 2030. Now that the 2010s are closing, we at are celebrating crucial events and firsts Saudi women have witnessed so far.

1- 2012: First Saudi Women To Compete in the Olympic Games

In 2012 Saudi Arabia agreed for female athletes to participate on it’s national team for the Olympics for the first time. One of those athletes was Sarah Attar who competed in the women’s 800 meter race in London and made history by running in her headscarf.

2- 2013: The First Women in the Shura

King Abdullah swore in the first 30 women to Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council in February 2013. This allowed women to be appointed to government positions giving them the opportunity to run for office.

3- 2015: Women Can Vote and Run for Office

Saudi Arabia’s municipal elections in 2015 allowed women to vote and run for office for the first time. In the kingdom’s 2015 polls, 20 Saudi women were elected to municipal positions in the absolute monarchy.

4- 2017: Saudi Appoints a Woman To Head Its Stock Exchange

Sarah Al Suhaimi is the first woman to head Saudi’s stock exchange as the chairwoman.

5- 2018: Sports Stadiums Open Their Gates to Women

Saudi’s General Sports Authority made the announcement in October 2017 that women would be allowed to be spectators at sports events at public stadiums for the first time. In early 2018, three, previous male-only arenas, welcomed women.

6- 2018: Women Can Drive

It was announced in September 2017 that women would be granted the permission to drive and in June 2018, the women of the kingdom celebrated their new driver’s licenses and freedom.

7- 2019: Women Now Don’t Require A Male Guardian’s Approval To Travel

In August 2019, a royal decree was granted to allow women, over the age of 21, their rights to travel outside of Saudi Arabia without the permission of a male guardian. This decree also determined that women would also be granted the right to apply for their own passports, register a marriage, child’s birth or divorce, apply for their children to travel outside of the kingdom, and be in possession of official family documents.

8- 2019: Saudi Women Were Appointed Roles As Public Prosecutors

In August 2019, 50 females were appointed the role of public prosecutor investigators for the first time in the country’s history.

9-  2019: Saudi Women Enjoy New Labor Rights, Including Revised Retirement Age

As of this year, the amendments in the labor regulation have stressed that “it is not allowed to discriminate between workers on the basis of gender, disability, age or any other forms of discrimination whether in work, employment or advertising on the vacancy.”

10- 2019: This year, Saudi Arabia introduced a new anti-harassment law.

 Penalties for breaking this law vary between a prison sentence of up to two years and/or a SR100,000 ($26,000) fine to prison sentences of up to five years and/or a maximum SR300,000 fine.

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