Saudi Arabia allows women to enlist in military

Feb 27, 2018 12:25 IST
Saudi Arabia allows women to enlist in military

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has for the first-ever time opened applications for women to enlist in the military.

Women have been given time till March 1, 2018 to apply for positions with the rank of soldier in the provinces of Riyadh, Mecca, al-Qassim and Medina.

The move is a continuation of the kingdom’s effort to enact reforms that grant females more access to a wide range of previously forbidden careers.

Key Requirements for the Role

• The female applicants must be Saudi citizens with a high school diploma.

• The age limit has been set between 25 to 35 years.

• Though the roles do not appear to involve combat, they will give women the opportunity to work in security.

• Under Saudi Arabia's guardianship system, women who apply to join the army must also have a place of residence in the same provinces as the job's location with their male guardians, usually husband, father, brother or son.

Significance

The recruitment of women as soldiers is one of the many reforms that the conservative gulf nation has introduced in recent months to enhance women’s rights and expand female employment under its new reform plan for a post-oil era.

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Background

• The Arab nation has been a witness to a series of new progressive reforms ever since Mohammed Bin Salman was appointed as the Crown Prince on 21 June 2017.

• The Prince is widely seen as the chief architect behind Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ reform programme, which seeks to elevate the percentage of women in the workforce from 22 % to nearly one-third.

• The Kingdom on February 15 announced a major policy change by allowing women to open their own businesses without the need of showing consent from a husband or male relative.

• Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor’s office also announced earlier this month that it would begin recruiting women investigators for the first time.

• The nation has also opened 140 positions for women at airports and border crossings, which drew over 107,000 female applicants- again a historic first for the nation.

• Saudi King Salman in September 2017, issued a decree that allowed women to drive cars, bringing an end to the decades-old ban on female drivers.

• Following the decree, the nation announced its plan to allow women to drive from June 2018 and ride-hailing apps are getting prepared to hire female drivers.

• In October 2017, the nation’s sports authority Chairman Turki Al-Asheikh announced that the Saudi women will now be able to attend sports events in stadiums starting from 2018.

Saudi Arabia's Male Guardianship System

Under the system, adult women must obtain permission to travel, marry or leave prison. They may be required to provide consent to work or access healthcare.

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