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Saudi Arabia allows women to join military

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File photo showing members of the Saudi security forces march during a military parade in Mecca on 17 September 2015Image copyright
AFP

Saudi Arabia has for the first time opened applications for women to join its military.

Women have until Thursday to apply for positions with the rank of soldier in the provinces of Riyadh, Mecca, al-Qassim and Medina.

The roles do not appear to involve combat, but will instead give women the opportunity to work in security.

A list of 12 requirements says hopefuls must be Saudi citizens, aged between 25 and 35, and have a high-school diploma.

The women and their male guardians – usually a husband, father, brother or son – must also have a place of residence in the same province as the job’s location.

The decision to recruit female soldiers is one of many reforms enhancing women’s rights introduced in recent months in the conservative Muslim kingdom.

King Salman has decreed that women will be permitted to drive from June, while women spectators were allowed to attend football matches from last month.

However, human rights activists say Saudi Arabia’s discriminatory male guardianship system remains intact despite government pledges to abolish it.

Under the system, adult women must obtain permission to travel, marry or leave prison. They may be required to provide consent to work or access healthcare.

Women are also separated from unrelated men and must wear full-length robes known as “abayas” in public, as well as headscarves if they are Muslims.

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