A Saudi woman takes part in a day of protest against the kingdom's ban on female drivers.
A Saudi woman takes part in a day of protest against the kingdom's ban on female drivers.Reuters

Saudi Arabian female activists have delivered a petition to the country's consultative council to demand an end to the "absolute authority" of male guardians over women in the Islamic kingdom.

The petition, which was signed by 10 female activists, also calls for Saudi women to be able to drive.

Saudi Arabia imposes a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, which forbids women from working or travelling without the permission of their male guardians.

The Islamic kingdom is the only country in the world that bans women from driving, and females are also forbidden from obtaining an identification card without the consent of their male custodians.

Last year, three female members of the Shura Council recommended that women be allowed to drive, but the proposal was blocked by the male-dominated 150-member assembly, which is appointed by the Saudi king and advises him on policy.

Aziza Yousef, one of the female activists who signed the latest petition, told the AFP news agency: "Rights activists have petitioned the Shura (consultative) Council on the occasion of International Women's Day (on 8 March), demanding an end to the absolute authority of men over women."

She said regulations such as having to obtain permission from male guardians to leave university campuses during study hours are "not based on religious teachings".

Yousef cited a recent case in which a pregnant student had to give birth on campus after a women-only university in the Saudi capital Riyadh denied access to paramedics.

In February, a university student died after paramedics were refused entry to her campus because they were not accompanied by male guardians.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia suspended a notification programme introduced in 2012 which alerted male guardians if women under their custody left the country, even if they were travelling together.

Watch Saudi women driving cars in a day of protest against the kingdom's ban on female drivers on YouTube, below: