The directive was sent to all government offices in the kingdom and allows women their right to apply for work permits, as well as medical and educational services without the consent of a male relative.
Saudi women no longer need a man’s consent to carry out certain activities, local media reported on Friday, but activists said the royal order does not go far enough.
The royal order extends to all services that require the consent of women’s guardians, calling for this requirement to be lifted within a period not exceeding three months from the date of the order’s issuance.
According to Saudi writer and women’s rights advocate Abdullah Al-Alami, Riyadh introduced the measure merely to “satisfy the Human Rights Commission, in relation to the global conventions to which the Kingdom has acceded”.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most prolific executioners and some put to the sword included detainees convicted of terrorism.
His spokesman later said the Irish government’s concern for women’s rights is “without question and has been demonstrated on many occasions”.
Saudi Arabia has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women, and is the only country where they are not allowed to drive. “This provides an opportunity for Ireland to take a leading role in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women generally”.
Emmerson also called specifically for the release of 10 named Saudis who he said had been arbitrarily arrested, largely because they had expressed criticism of aspects of the kingdom.
These decisions do not have any legal basis in the country’s regulations but are mere jurisprudences that consider women as minor and anyone has the right to impose more constraints on them.
“Male guardianship is un-Islamic and humiliating for women”, said Akeel.
Mr Flanagan said countries noted for their transparency – “like Norway and Sweden – adhered to the convention of not revealing how they voted when Saudi Arabia was elected to the UN Commission”.
“I strongly condemn the use of counter-terrorism legislation and penal sanctions against individuals peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression”, religion, or association, said Emmerson, who reports to the UN’s Human Rights Council. In 2011, the late King Abdullah gave women the right to join the Shoura Council and the right to run and vote in the municipal elections, which came a reality in 2015.
The list includes Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and human rights lawyer Walid Abulkhair.