Saudi Arabia allows women to join armed forces

The plan to allow entry of women into the military was first announced in 2018, the same year when the Arab nation allowed women to open their businesses without the need of showing consent from a husband or male relative.

Created On: Feb 23, 2021 13:38 ISTModified On: Feb 23, 2021 13:38 IST
Saudi Arabia allows women to join Armed Forces

In a landmark decision, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has allowed Saudi Arabian women to take up arms and enter the military. 

Saudi Arabian women can now be employed as soldiers, lance corporals, corporals, sergeants and staff sergeants. The Military is the latest profession in the Kingdom that has opened up to female recruits.

Key Highlights 

Jobs have been gradually opening up for Saudi women in the Kingdom. The increased participation of women in the workforce is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plans to transform the Arab world’s largest economy. 

Saudi Arabian women have been allowed to take up several roles that were previously limited to men such as working as cashiers in shopping malls, brewing coffee in coffee houses and waiting tables in restaurants.

The plan to allow entry of women into the military was first announced in 2018, the same year when the Arab nation allowed women to open their businesses without the need of showing consent from a husband or male relative.

The female applicants to the military will have to fulfil the usual weight and height criteria and will need to have had at least a high school education. 

The applicants married to foreigners will not be accepted into the military. 

The Saudi Arabian Minister of Justice had appointed 100 women as public notaries in 2020. 

In January 2021, a government official said that Saudi Arabia will start appointing female court judges soon. 

Significance

Till recently, Saudi women had limited options when looking for work. They were mostly only allowed to work as teachers or for a government entity. 

In 2011, a law was passed that all lingerie and cosmetics businesses should only have female employees, following an intensive campaign led by women.

Many Firsts

Since 2017, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced a series of new reforms for women including opening up more job opportunities for them and giving them more freedom. 

In September 2017, Saudi King Salman had issued a decree allowing women to drive cars, bringing an end to the decades-old ban on female drivers.

In October 2017, the nation allowed Saudi women to attend sports events in stadiums starting from 2018.

In December 2017, Saudi Arabia announced the passing of a resolution that lifted the decades-old ban on providing licenses to commercial movie theatres.

In February 2018, the nation announced a major policy change by allowing women to open their businesses without the need of showing consent from a husband or male relative.

In the same month, Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor’s office also began recruiting women investigators for the first time. Many work positions also opened up for women at airports and border crossings.

In August 2019, Saudi Arabia allowed women in the nation to obtain passports and travel abroad freely without approval from a male guardian, ending decades-old restriction. 

Saudi Arabia also abolished its age-old rule that mandated separate entrances and seating areas for men and women in December 2019. 

Background

Saudi Arabia has seen a series of new progressive reforms ever since Mohammed Bin Salman was appointed as the Crown Prince on June 21, 2017. The crown prince had pledged a ‘moderate and open’ Saudi Arabia in October 2017.

Crown Prince Salman is also 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 percent to nearly one-third.

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