In the latest widening of rights, Saudi Arabia has introduced reforms under its Vision 2030 initiative which will enable women to advance in various fields that were previously limited to men in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The latest move — under the vision of His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud — was announced this week by the Saudi Ministry of Defense, allowing women of the kingdom to take up arms and apply for positions in the military and armed forces. Saudi women will now be able to join the Saudi Arabian Army, Royal Saudi Air Defense, Royal Saudi Navy, Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force, and Armed Forces Medical Services as soldiers, lance corporals, corporals, sergeants, and staff sergeants.
Saudi women wishing to apply through the unified portal must be between the ages of 21 and 40 to join the military, and to join the army, they must also be at least 155cm tall. Additionally, each applicant will need to have a clean record, pass admission procedures, be medically fit for service, hold her own independent nationality card, have a minimum of a high school education, and cannot be married to a non-Saudi.
Women joining the military has been a controversial topic in the Kingdom among both women and men for the last 30 years, and this week’s news has been met with polarizing opposition and support. For some, it is a step forward towards the inclusion of women in all fields. “In my personal opinion, it is very important for women to be in the military, where they can have an active role in our conservative society,” says Halah Al-Ynabawi, an operating systems specialist.