Women in Saudi Arabia are angry about the government’s decision to grant citizenship to a female robot that, unlike them, does not need a male guardian or need to cover its head in public.
Social media was abuzz with questions about whether the robot, Sophia, which debuted at a technology conference in Riyadh last week, will be treated like women in the conservative kingdom.
“It hit a sore spot that a robot has citizenship and my daughter doesn’t,” Hadeel Shaikh, a Saudi woman whose 4-year-old is not a citizen because the girl’s dad is Lebanese.
Women in Saudi Arabia who are married to foreigners cannot pass on citizenship to their children.
Shaikh is worried about the future of her daughter, who has only a residency card.
“I want her to feel welcomed even if I am not here,” Shaikh told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Saudi Arabia also requires a male family member to grant permission for a woman to travel.
“I’m wondering if robot Sophia can leave Saudi Arabia without her guardian consent!” tweeted Saudi feminist Moudi Aljohani, who is based in the United States.
The discussion comes as Saudi Arabia has begun to increase women’s rights. The kingdom announced in September that women will be allowed to drive.