For the first time Saudi Arabia has opened applications for women to join the military. They have until Thursday (March 1) to apply for positions for the rank of soldier in the provinces of Riyadh, Mecca, al-Qassim and Medina. The roles are not combative but will instead give women the chance to work in security.
The women must satisfy 12 requirements to be chosen. They must be citizens between the ages of 25 and 35 and have a high school diploma. Their male guardians must have a place of residence in the province they are assigned to
Women applying must also be at least 155 cm (approximately 5 feet) tall and have a “good weight to height ratio”. This will be confirmed by a medical checkup. They cannot be former government employees or have previously worked in the military. They also cannot have any criminal history or be married to non-Saudis.
Saudi Arabia takes slow steps to modernisation
The move is part of Crown Prince Bin Salman Al Saud’s Vision 2030. He plans to modernise the Saudi economy and move away from being dependent on oil.
This February, Saudi Arabia‘s Ministry of Commerce and Investment announced that the country’s women no longer need the permission or support of a male guardian to found a startup. “No need for a guardian’s permission. Saudi women are free to start their own business freely,” ministry spokesperson Abdul Rahman Al-Hussein tweeted with #No_Need on Thursday (Feb 15).
In January, the Saudi passport directorate opened 140 jobs for women in air traffic control at Saudi airports. Last September, King Salman said that women will be permitted to drive as of June 2018.
However, human rights activists have argued that Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system remains in place, though the government has said it would abolish it. Women must still take male permission to travel, marry etc.
Human Rights Watch said that the reforms remain partial and incomplete.