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Saudi Arabia Issues New Rule: Women Will Be Notified of Divorce Through A Text Message

Culture

Just a week into the New Year, Saudi Arabia made a big change in their realm of politics. As of January 6, the government made it mandatory for Saudi women to be notified about their divorce.


While this may seem like an uncommon way to end a marriage, Saudi women often don't know their marital status. The new law is no longer making it possible for their husbands to sneakily file for divorce, a common issue in this Middle Eastern country. As a step in the right direction for Saudi women, the courts will send an SMS text message when they are being divorced. Now, they will not have the disadvantage of not knowing.

How does this new policy affect women?

The Saudi Ministry of Justice, which oversees the administration of the country’s court system, issued a statement online regarding the new policy. “Saudi courts have started [sending] such notifications…a step aimed at protecting the rights of female clients, and enhancing the digital transformation with more services,” the Saudi Ministry of Justice states. “The courts notify women of probate certificates related to marital status – upon approval – through their Absher-registered mobile numbers.” In addition to the new law, women have access to an online portal on the Ministry of Justice website, where they can find additional information about their marital status.

Not only does this law require that women are informed, but also protects their rights, especially when it comes to negotiating alimony or custody. Saudi courts text information including a divorce certificate number and the name of the court where the documents can be retrieved, according to CNN. In spite of the recent changes, husbands are still able to divorce their wives without letting them know.

Following Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s lifted ban on women driving last year this initiative goes along with his Vision for 2030 economic and social reforms. Within that plan, women have gained more rights in recent years, but are still limited by what they can do due to a male guardianship system, Bloomberg reports. For those who don't know, Saudi women are restricted from doing certain things without permission from a male, such as a husband, father or brother. As a result, Saudi women are still taking to social media to protest for more freedom.

“At least women will know whether they are divorced or not,” Suad Abu-Dayyeh said in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It is a tiny step, but it is a step in the right direction.”

The guardianship is one of many things women are protesting. Suad Abu-Dayyeh from global rights group, Equality Now, shares insight on the matter in an interview with Reuters. “The male guardianship system is a core issue and it must be dismantled,” Abu-Dayyeh said to a Reuters reporter. “This system strangles Saudi women.” Social issues surrounding the male-dominated kingdom also involve dress codes -- not being able to appear in public without wearing a full-length black abaya or mixing freely with the opposite sex despite fewer restrictions on gender-mixing are still prevalent.

In light of the new law, the Twitter community was life with comments. Both men and women have shared their thoughts on the matter. A tweet sent out by a copy of a ministry circular was shared by, Step Feed regarding the 2030 Vision for economic and social reforms. Some found the law helpful, others deemed it ridiculous and the remainder criticized its impact on women in this Middle Eastern country.

The new law faced criticism from a few.

Translation: "A move that should’ve been made tens of years ago. Progress is incredibly slow here, especially when it comes to women’s rights.”

A few jokes were made in response to the progress of women’s rights.

Translation: "Salem sister, we wanted to inform you that you’ve been divorced. Your husband came here a while ago and divorced you. We thought we should let you know, we’ve advanced a little. But your presence isn’t important, thank you."

“This system strangles Saudi women.”

Others helped forward important information and positive reinforcement.

Translation: "An excellent step the most important thing is to be registered in Absher until the text message comes."

Photo Courtesy of BBC News.

This new law is a small development and achievement for women within Saudi Arabia. “At least women will know whether they are divorced or not,” Suad Abu-Dayyeh said in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It is a tiny step, but it is a step in the right direction.

In the past couple of years, there have been a few advancements and progresses regarding women’s rights. The New Year has just begun -- meaning there may be more policy implementations in the months ahead, following the crown prince’s strategic planning for new reforms.

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How I Went From Shy Immigrant to Co-Founder of OPI, the World's #1 Nail Brand

In many ways I am a shining example of the American Dream. I was born in Hungary during the Communist era, and my family fled to Israel before coming to the U.S. in pursuit of freedom and safety. When we arrived, I was just a young, shy girl who couldn't speak English. After my childhood in Hungary, New York City was a marvel; I couldn't believe that such a lively, rich place existed. Even a simple thing like going to the market and seeing all the bright, colorful produce and having so many choices was new to me. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's where my love affair with color truly began.


One thing I had was a strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, to learn English, and at jobs including my first job at Dairy Queen -- which I loved! Ice cream is easily my favorite food. From there, I moved into the garment district where my brother-in-law's family had a business. During this time, I was able to see how a business was run and began to hone in on my eye for aesthetics and willingness to work hard at any task I was given.

Eventually, my brother-in-law bought a dental supply company in Los Angeles and asked me to join him. LA, a place with 365-days of sunshine. How could I say no? The company started as Odontorium Products Inc. During the acrylic movement of the 1980s, we realized that nail technicians were buying our product, and that the same components used for dentures were used for artificial nails. We saw a potential opening in the market, and we seized it. OPI began dropping off the "rubber band special" at every salon on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid and primer – rubber-banded together – became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry. It was 1981 when OPI first opened its doors. I couldn't have predicted our success, but I knew that hard work and faith in myself would be key in transforming a new business into a company with global reach.

When we started OPI, what we were doing was something new. Before OPI came on the scene, the generic, utilitarian nail polish names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were completely forgettable. We rebranded the category with catchy names that we knew women could relate to and would remember. The industry was stale and boring, so we made it more fun and sexy. We started creating color collections. I carefully developed 30 groundbreaking colors for the debut collection -- many of which are still beloved bestsellers today, including Malaga Wine, Alpine Snow and Kyoto Pearl.

There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does.

With deep roots in Tinseltown, we eventually started collaborating with Hollywood. Our decision to collaborate with the entertainment industry also propelled OPI forward in another way, ultimately leading us to finding a way to connect with women beyond the world of beauty, relating our products to the beverages they drink, the cars they drive, the movies they watch, the clothes they wear – even the shade they use to paint their living room walls! There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does. It also propelled my growth as a businessperson forward. I found myself sitting in meetings with executives from some of the top companies in the world. I didn't have a fancy presentation. I didn't have a Harvard business degree. I realized that what I had was passion. I had a passion for what we were doing, and I had my own unique story that no one else could replicate.

Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today

Bit by bit, I grew up with the business. Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today -- an author, public speaker, and co-founder of OPI, the world's #1 professional nail brand.

I learned quickly that one can be an expert at many things, but not everything. Running a business is very hard work. Luckily, I had someone I could collaborate with who brought something new to the table and complemented my talents, my brother-in-law George Schaeffer. My business "superpower," or the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently, kept me ahead of trends and competition.

Another key to my success in building this brand and in growing in business was being authentic. Authenticity is so important to brands and maybe even more so now in the time of social media when you can speak directly to your consumers. I realized even then that I could only be me. I was a woman who knew what I wanted. I looked at my mother and daughter and wanted to create products that would excite and empower them.

There's often an expectation placed on women in charge that they need to be cutthroat to be competitive, but that's not true. Rather than focusing on my gender or any implied limitations I might bring to the job as a female and a mother, I always focused instead on my vision. I deliberately fostered an environment at OPI filled with warmth. After all, at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as its people. I've always found that being nice, being humble, and listening to others has served me well. Instead of pushing others down to get to the top, inspire them and bring them along on the journey.

You can read more about my personal and professional journey in my new memoir out now, I'm Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time.