Saudi Arabia drew international plaudits last year when it lifted a longstanding ban on women driving.
However, restrictions on women remain – most notably, the “male guardianship system”, a woman’s father, brother, husband or son has the authority to make critical decisions on her behalf.
These restrictions were highlighted in early January, when a young Saudi woman fleeing her family barricaded herself in a hotel room in Bangkok saying she feared imprisonment if she was sent back home.
A Saudi woman is required to obtain a male relative’s approval approval to apply for a passport, travel outside the country, study abroad on a government scholarship, get married, leave prison, or even exit a shelter for abuse victims.
“This is something that affects every Saudi woman and girl, from birth to death. They are essentially treated like minors,” the Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy told the BBC.