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News > World

Saudi Arabia: Government to Allow Women to Join Army

  • Frontline combat remains prohibited but security personnel positions are open to the women as well.

    Frontline combat remains prohibited but security personnel positions are open to the women as well. | Photo: Reuters FILE

Published 27 February 2018

Women need the permission of a male guardian to apply and enlist in the army, similar to pursuing travel, marrying, working or accessing healthcare.

The Saudi Arabian Government will allow women to join the armed forces for the first time.

Senior Saudi Cleric: Women Shouldn't Be Forced to Use Abayas

Saudi women can now apply to become soldiers in certain provinces in the conservative Middle Eastern country. However, they will need the permission of a male guardian to join the ranks of a soldier, similar to pursuing travel, marrying, leaving prison, working or accessing healthcare.

Frontline combat remains strictly prohibited but security personnel positions have been opened to the women, a BBC report stated. The provinces in which the women can serve are Riyadh, Mecca, al-Qassim and Medina.

The deadline for the submission of applications will expire on Thursday. There are 12 requirements that the applicants must meet. They are:

  1. Must be a Saudi Arabian
  2. Must be Saudi-raised (unless lived with their father who was posted overseas on official assignments)
  3. Must hold a high school diploma
  4. Must be between 25 and 35 years old
  5. Must be at least 155 centimeters tall
  6. Must have “good weight to height ratio”
  7. Must pass a mandatory medical check-up
  8. Must not be married to a non-Saudi national
  9. Must not have a criminal record
  10. Must not be an ex-government employee
  11. Must possess a national ID card
  12. Must reside in the province of where employment is being sought

The recruitment of women to the army comes from Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud implementing various modernization programs under Vision 2030. The programs are focused on improving women’s rights in the extremely conservative kingdom.

Saudi women who are of the Muslim faith will still be required to wear the Abaya and be separated from males who are non-relatives.

In January, 140 air traffic control jobs were offered to women at Saudi airports. Over 100,000 applications were received for the positions. The head of state issued a directive making it mandatory for 20 percent of country's Shura Council advisory board seats be appointed to women, in 2013.

“Conscription is today a national necessity and should include both men and women,” Shura Council member Iqbal Darandari said, according to Gulf News. “Women must be trained to serve their country and defend themselves and their homeland in case of a crisis, war or attack in any region.”

King Salman announced last year that women would be permitted to drive as of June 2018, after being allowed to attend soccer matches in January for the first time.

A Human Rights Watch report said women’s rights reforms in Saudi Arabia remain “partial and incomplete.”

“If the Saudi government intends to end discrimination against women as it has promised and to further the reforms it has already begun to undertake, it cannot allow restrictions inherent within the guardianship system to continue,” the report added.

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