The new regulations, made by the Saudi cabinet and published in a government publication, are the latest in a series of steps by the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to shake off the kingdom’s image as one of the world’s most restrictive places for women.

Since his father, King Salman, ascended to the throne in 2015 and began handing tremendous powers to his son, Prince Mohammed has launched initiatives aimed at diversifying the Saudi economy, confronting the kingdom’s regional foes and loosening strict social restrictions by allowing concerts and opening movie theaters.

After the kingdom lifted its longstanding prohibition on women driving in June 2018, activists who had long campaigned against the ban shifted their focus to the kingdom’s so-called “guardianship” system, a mix of laws, regulations and social customs that critics said gave women in the kingdom a status similar to that of minors. Under the system, all women had to have a male “guardian,” usually a father or husband, but sometimes a son or other male relative, whose permission was required for a woman to obtain a passport, travel abroad, get a job or seek certain medical procedures.