National Post (Latest Edition)



Saudi Arabia will allow women to join its military, the kingdom’s defence ministry said Sunday, in its latest effort to improve its human rights image.

Military ranks from soldier to sergeant will now be available to women in the army, royal Saudi air defence, navy and strategic missile force and the armed forces medical services.

Women between 21 and 40 who have a clean criminal record, are not married to a non-saudi Arabian citizen and have at least a high school education will be eligible to sign up to the forces.

The move comes under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “vision 2030” initiative — the 35-year-old prince’s efforts to modernize the kingdom, attract foreign investment and improve its reputation.

despite reforms on driving, employment and freedom of movement over recent years, poor women’s rights remain a major criticism of the kingdom.

“While these measures are important, many activists who advocated for these reforms remain imprisoned, silenced, or in exile,” a Human rights Watch report said, following the release of the activist Loujain al-hathloul last week. “These reform announceme­nts may also serve to deflect attention from continuing repression.”

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