Vision 2030, affirming that the government will “continue to develop talents, invest in [women’s] productive capabilities and enable them to strengthen their future.”
Yet for many, these future promises are not enough. They want change now.
“We are linking our demands to the 2030 vision,” said Saher Nasief, a retired professor of languages. “How can it succeed if half of society is paralyzed? We are doing it for the next generation.”
The current movement began to gain momentum in July, when the Human Rights Watch said that Saudi women were “controlled by a man from birth until death.” The campaigners quickly organized on social media under a Twitter hashtag translating to “Saudi women want to abolish the guardianship.” Saudi women have also been using the hashtag #IAmMyOwnGuardian. The campaign has been accompanied by art, bracelets and video ads.
Grand Mufti Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, the country’s most senior cleric, called the movement to repeal the guardianship system “a crime against the religion of Islam” which posed “an existential threat to Saudi society.”
However, Yousef said she did not expect any ramifications from signing the petition. “I’m not worried, I’m not doing anything wrong,” she said. The 2,500 women whose names were officially counted on the petition all signed their full names, though many more signed anonymously.
The Saudi government has not officially responded to the petition. Yousef, who has been campaigning for five years now, remains positive. “We never had a problem with campaigning, but the problem is there is no answer. But we always hope—without hope, you cannot work.”