Saudi Arabia allows women to join armed forces

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia announced that it will allow women to serve in the armed forces as it embarks on a broad programme of economic and social reforms, reported Al Jazeera.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia took to Twitter and said "Another step to empowerment." The tweet also mentioned that the Saudi women will be allowed to serve as first soldier, corporal, deputy sergeant and sergeant. The move is the latest in a series of measures aimed at increasing the rights of women in the kingdom, even as rights groups accuse Riyadh of cracking down on women activists.

Last year, Saudi Arabia authorised women to join its security forces. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, has approved a handful of reforms aimed at widening women's rights, including allowing them to drive and to travel abroad without consent from a male "guardian".

On 24 June 2018, Saudi Arabia lifted its blanket ban on women drivers. Women were also allowed to apply for a passport and travel freely, ending a long-standing guardianship policy that gave men control over women, AP reported. According to Reuters, Saudi Arabia has allowed foreign men and women to rent rooms in hotel. They do not need to prove that they are related.

But Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has at the same time overseen the arrest of several prominent women's rights campaigners, including activist Loujain al-Hathloul. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter, is pushing to improve its image and attract tourists as part of a plan to diversify its economy away from oil.

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