TOGETHER TO END MALE GUARDIANSHIP is an online animated awareness campaign, part of Human Rights Watch's report Boxed In: Women and Saudi Arabia’s Male Guardianship System. The report examines in detail the formal and informal barriers women in Saudi Arabia face when attempting to make decisions or take action without the presence or consent of a male relative. These restrictions last from birth until death, as women are, in the view of the Saudi state, permanent legal minors.
ANIMADOCS was commissioned by Human Rights Watch to create three short animations, based on three real-life situations shared in the extensive report: a domestic violence assault case where the male guardian is also the abusive husband; an adult women/widow asking permission from her son to travel abroad; and a minor woman who needs a guardian permission to leave prison;
The animated shorts were released in July 2016 via HRW's social media channels and generated over one million views during the first day of the release and over 10 million views in total. The animated short on freedom of movement was "HRW's most viewed video on Facebook for 2016". The Independent (UK) first wrote about the project with the title "The cartoon that shows how ridiculous Saudi laws are for women" and opening paragraph "Thousands of people have circulated a short animation video designed to show the restrictions that Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system places on women". The news spread quickly followed by an article in the New York Times, focused exclusively on the three shorts and describing them scene-by-scene. EURONEWS created their own compilation of the 3 clips and the report findings. Following dozens of other articles, thousands of shares and posts across FB, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo and more we can confidently say that #TogetherToEndMaleGuardianship has gone viral. According to CNN and BBC the grassroots movement that the campaign created has led to over 14,000 Saudi women signing a petition asking for the government policy to be changed.
In September 2017 Saudi Arabia announced that it would allow women to drive, ending a longstanding policy that has become a global symbol of the oppression of women in the ultraconservative kingdom. In 2018 Women would be able to obtain driver’s licenses without having to ask permission of their husbands, fathers or any male guardian — despite so-called “guardianship” laws. We hope this is the first step in a long string of change for over 15 million women currently living in SA!
© 2016 Human Rights Watch [3 x 45’’]