Saudi Arabian women can now register for the annual Hajj pilgrimage without a male guardian (marham), the country’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced.
In its registration guidelines issued for this year’s Hajj for domestic pilgrims, the ministry said women do not need to have a male guardian to register, and could do so along with other women. “Those wishing to perform Hajj will have to register individually,” the Saudi Arabian government said in a statement.
India had in 2017 announced the same rule in 2017 when the Modi government declared that women could go on Haj without a male companion. The decades-old restriction on Muslim women was removed and all women who were exempted from marham were also exempted from the lottery system. The decision was met with an overwhelming response from women, particularly from single Muslim women and working women.
In the first year in 2018, the number of women who performed Hajj without mehram stood at 1,171 and in 2019 a total of 2,230 women performed Hajj without a male companion.
The pilgrimage was stopped in 2020 due to a rise in the number of coronavirus cases.
There are several factors that suggest that the central government under the leadership of Narendra Modi has been working towards the empowerment of women. The abolition of triple talaq on August 22, 2017 was also reflective of strong political of a government that put gender equality as its priority.
Another step taken by the Modi government from 2018 for was when the Hajj subsidy was abolished and in 2019 a record two lakh Indian Muslims had performed Hajj without subsidy. The removal of subsidy has till date helped save close Rs 700 crore.
The money that was saved because of the removal of subsidy was used in empowering women from the minority communities. It was used to provide education to Muslim girls as a result of which the dropout rate among girls has now been reduced to about 30 per cent from the previous 70 per cent.
“Politicians come and do the talking but our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown that action speaks louder than words. The way in which the empowerment of the Muslim women has been undertaken over the last few years shows that the government believes in ‘Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas Sab Ka vishwas’,” Minority affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told CNN-News18.