Saudi women can now join the army for first time

Women in Saudi Arabia are now able to enlist in the military for the first time as the country opens applications to some women.

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Applicants must be Saudi citizens aged between 25 and 35, have passed a high-school diploma, and be at least 155cm tall, with a good weight to height ratio (Gulf News). They have until Thursday to apply for soldier positions in the provinces of Riyadh, Mecca, al-Qassim, and Medina. Women’s roles won’t involve combat but duties in the security division, reports Saudi-owned pan-Arab news channel Al Arabiya.

The move comes as part of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman‘s reforms to “return” his country to a “moderate Islam.”

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Until 2015, women were banned from voting, and until 2018, women were prohibited from watching soccer in stadiums, attending movie theaters, and driving. (See WikiTribune‘s previous coverage of women being able to enter soccer stadiums in Saudi Arabia for the first time and why the country lifted its ban on women driving.)

Women in Saudi Arabia have had some restrictions on them removed but human rights activists say that the male guardianship system is still entrenched:  Women still have to get permission from male companions for a range of life decisions.

In a political and military reshuffle announced on Monday evening by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, a woman was given a senior government job, a rare occurrence. Tamadur bint Youssef al-Ramah became deputy labour minister.

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