Saudi Women Can Now Join Military — But There's A Catch

Women in Saudi Arabia can now apply to join military, but they must meet 12 requirements — including having a male guardian’s consent.

Saudi Women

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, has been credited for bringing about a series of liberal and economic reforms to the deeply patriarchal Islamic state, such as allowing women to drive and lifting a 35-year ban on cinemas.

The conservative country has most recently opened military applications to women for the first time, taking yet another major step toward women’s rights.

The interior ministry of Saudi Arabia is now accepting applications from female candidates for military positions in the provinces of Riyadh, Mecca, al-Qassim and Medina.

The posts are available till March 1.

The approach is all about “pumping young blood” into local government and to upgrade young commanders to top military posts, according to Saudi analyst Ahmed al-Towayan.

However, there is a catch. Apart from passing a test and an interview conducted by a female officer, there are 12 other requirements the candidates must meet to be considered for the job, such as being brought up in the kingdom, ages 25-35 with a high school diploma, and standing at least 5 feet tall with a good body-mass index.

More particularly, the applicants must not be married to a non-Saudi, must reside with her male guardian in the location where the job requires her to be and have permission from the guardian.

Under Saudi Arabia’s draconian guardianship system, no woman can undertake even basic decisions for herself.

The conservative approach only grants male guardians, such as a father, husband, brother or even a son, the authority to make decisions.

Even though King Salman bin Abdulaziz has ordered all government services to be granted to women without a male guardian’s consent, a guardian’s approval is still needed for women to make important decisions of her life, such as traveling outside the country or even getting married.

However, Saudi Arabia’s recent advancement towards women empowerment, like hiring Dr. Tamadur bint Youssef Al Ramah as the new deputy labor minister, a dream job for women in the country, is a significant step toward a liberal reform.

Thumbnail/Banner Credit: Pexels

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