The 2013 Global Gender Gap Report ranked several Muslim nations, such as Kyrgyzstan, Gambia, and Indonesia significantly higher than Saudi Arabia for women's equality.
However it moved up four places from the last report due to an increase in the percentage of women in parliament (from 0% to 20%), (based on the introduction of a new quota for women in parliament) and had the biggest overall score improvement relative to 2006 of any country in the Middle East.
In 2012, the Saudi Arabian government implemented a new policy to help with enforcement on the traveling restrictions for women.
Under this new policy, Saudi Arabian men receive a text message on their mobile phones whenever a woman under their custody leaves the country, even if she is traveling with her guardian.
During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, women's rights in Saudi Arabia were limited in comparison to the rights of women in many of its neighbor countries due to the strict sharia law in place in Saudi Arabia.
The World Economic Forum's 2016 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Saudi Arabia 141 out of 144 countries for gender parity, with the result that some improvements to their status occurred during the second decade of the twenty-first century.
Women were previously forbidden from voting in all elections or being elected to any political office, but in 2011 King Abdullah let women vote in the 2015 local elections and be appointed to the Consultative Assembly.
and female literacy was estimated to be 91%, which while still lower than male literacy, was far higher than 40 years earlier.
The variation of interpretation often leads to controversy.Mashael al-Eissa, an Internet writer, opposed reforms on the grounds that Saudi Arabia is the closest thing to an "ideal and pure Islamic nation," and under threat from "imported Western values."A poll conducted by a former lecturer Ahmed Abdel-Raheem in 2013 to female students at Al-Lith College for Girls at Um al-Qura University, Mecca, found that 79% of the participants in the poll did not support the lifting of the driving ban for women.One of the students who took part in the poll commented: "In my point of view, female driving is not a necessity because in the country of the two holy mosques every woman is like a queen.For example, Sheikh Ahmad Qassim Al-Ghamdi, chief of the Mecca region's mutaween (religious police), has said prohibiting ikhtilat (gender mixing) has no basis in Sharia.At least according to some (Library of Congress) customs of the Arabian peninsula also play a part in women's place in Saudi society.