Bit by bit, Saudi Arabia has been granting women long-awaited freedoms — and women have been embracing these new opportunities for independence in droves.
The Saudi General Directorate of Passports posted 140 jobs openings available to women last week and has already received 107,000 applications, CNN Money reported. And more than half a million people have viewed the postings for positions at airports and border crossings.
Under Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system, women still need permission from a man in order to apply for jobs, but the extension of these jobs to women in itself represents change.
Read more: 2017 Was A Good Year for Saudi Women, But There’s Still A Long Way to Go
Including more women in the workforce is a key part of the country’s ambitious “Vision 2030” plan for economic reform, according the World Economic Forum. The plan hopes to raise women’s economic participation to 30% by 2030, but with the current laws in place, it won’t be easy.
Current Saudi labor laws still prohibit women from working after sunset and before sunrise, with a few exceptions, according to CNN. And female entrepreneurs require two character references from men to get a loan or a license to start her own business, the World Economic Forum reported.
Still, progress is underway.
In 2017, the government announced it would finally allow women to drive — without having to get a man’s permission to apply for a license — and to attend sporting events with their families.
Since then, ride-hailing apps like Uber and Careem, Uber’s regional competitor, have begun recruiting women and hope to hire thousands of women over the next year, creating opportunities for women to lead independent lives and become more self-sufficient financially.
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