In a series of social and economic reforms, Saudi Arabia will allow women to enlist in the army for the first time.

Mohammad bin Salman, the prince of Saudi Arabia, has approved a series of new reforms, the latest being allowing women to enlist. Possible ranks for women now include private to sergeant in the army, navy, air defense, missile sources, and medical services. Hassan al Srihiri, an ex-official at the Defense Ministry, stated, “Women’s admission into the most important ministry in the kingdom is a major step in the right direction. There are vast prospects at the ministry that can absorb thousands of women who can make a difference in their positions.” The Defense Ministry added that this is “another step toward empowerment” for women.

Saudi Arabia has been making major strides in women’s rights including allowing women to join security forces last year, such as drug combat, prisons, and criminal investigations. Other reforms include allowing women to drive cars, travel abroad without a man present, and apply for a passport.

However, despite Mohammad bin Salam taking steps to empower women, his regime has been arresting prominent women’s rights activists in the country. Such women’s rights activists include Loujain al-Hathloul, who was arrested, tortured, then told to deny being tortured in exchange for release. Some claim that Saudi Arabia is only using these social reforms to improve its worldwide image and attract tourists, therefore diversifying its economy.

Sources: Aljazeera 10/9/19, Gulf News 10/3/19, Aljazeera 08/14/19

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