Riyadh, Feb 23: Saudi Arabia has opened up the armed forces for Women. Following the order, the female recruits can now trade their abayas, that is a traditional Islamic dress worn by women in Arab countries, for military uniforms. According to the new order, women will now be recruited as soldiers, lance corporals, corporals, sergeants, and staff sergeants. The Saudi Arabia govt has also added some additional criteria for female applicants.
The move to induce women officers in the armed forces aims to increase the rights of women in the country. The plan to allow women in the armed forces was first announced in the year 2019. The female applicants are required to pass the admission procedures in accordance with the specified conditions. The female applicants are expected to have a clean record and must be medically fit for the service. They should age between 21 and 40 years old with a minimum height of 155 cm for the recruitment.
Further, the conditions state that the women should not be a govt employee, presently and are required to hold an independent national identity card. The woman candidate is required to have acquired at least high school education. However, the female applicants who are married to non-Saudi citizens will not be eligible for the recruitment.
Rights of the women in Saudi Arabia have been limited, as compared to the rights of women in many of its neighboring countries. There is a strict interpretation and application of the Islamic Sharia law in the country. However, in the year 2017, ever since the coronation of Mohammed bin Salman as the Crown Prince, he has been bringing a series of social reforms witnessing the women’s rights. In the year 2015, Saudi women were allowed to vote in elections and also to be appointed in the consultative assembly. In 2017, women were allowed to access the govt services like health and education as well as to drive. In 2019, women were given right to register the divorce and their marriage age was capped at and above 18 years. In the present year, it was decided that Saudi women can now be appointed as court judge.
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap Report, Saudi Arabia was ranked at 141 out of 144 countries with respect to gender parity. The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) had elected Saudi Arabia to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women for 2018–2022, although the move was also widely criticized by the international community. As of 2019, women in Saudi Arabia just constituted 34.4 per cent of the native workforce in the country. In the recent times, they have started various campaign that resulted in the improvements to their status, including the one when the govt opens the armed forces for women.