Saudi women set to join elite ‘National Guard’

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Photo - MidEastposts.com

Prince Mitaab Bin Abdullah, head of the Saudi National Guard, announced on Tuesday he will create a department within the force that will be tasked with recruiting female soldiers.

According to a newspaper report published in Okaz, a leading Saudi newspaper, Prince Abdullah said a new study has been submitted to recruit female soldiers in the Saudi National Guard.

Women in the conservative kingdom are still stopped from driving automobiles. However, the latest announcement is being seen as a gradual step towards empowerment of women in various sectors of the Saudi society. The kingdom’s ministry of labour implemented a royal decree in early 2012 that ordered women-only staff at lingerie shops. The move is seen as part of the Saudisation policy and offer Saudi women more jobs.

Women were granted the right to vote and run in the next municipal elections, expected in four years, for the first time last year. They were also given the right to be appointed to the kingdom’s consultative Shura Council.

Saudi Arabia’s passport directorate also hired female civilians back in late 2010 to check women’s identities and to help with services, both at a full time and part time basis.

King Abdullah, seen as a reformer by many analysts, has taken a few concrete steps toward modernising the judiciary, armed forces, and various ministries. He was the first ever Saudi king to appoint the country’s first female deputy minister.

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