Four Saudi women have made history by becoming the first to be granted licenses to practice law in the kingdom’s courts.
Until this week, despite completing full legal degrees, women were limited to being employed as legal consultants and were banned from practicing law in the courtroom.
They were not given attorney status and could not own or operate law firms.
Female lawyers – of which there are an estimated 2,500, according to Arab News – have increased their pressure on authorities to reform the system in recent years. A social media campaign, “I am a female lawyer”, launched last year, helping to gain attention to their plight.
The decision also will help females involved in legal disputes, particularly related to domestic and custody cases.
The patriarchal system arguably favours husbands and fathers but female lawyers are hoping their presence in the court room will be able to help better represent their female clients and rebalance the system.
However, it remains to be seen how the female lawyers are treated in the courtroom.
Commentators also have said they must be allowed the freedom to travel between their offices and the courts. Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.