Saudi to add 30 women to Shoura Council

Photo for illustrative purposes only

In September 2011, King Abullah announced that women would be eligible to sit in the council for the first time.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia are expected to name 30 women to the kingdom’s consultative Shoura Council before the start of its next annual session, Al-Sharq reported.

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The 150-member body, which sits in Riyadh, has the power to propose legislation to the country’s absolute ruler King Abdullah, but cannot pass laws itself.

Since the council was founded, it has been completely male dominated. In September 2011, King Abullah announced that women would be eligible to sit in the council for the first time.

“We made this decision because we refuse to marginalize women in Saudi society in their roles that comply with the Islamic Shariah and following consultations with many of our scholars who supported it,” King Abdullah said at the time.

Al-Sharq, citing sources close to the Shoura Council, said that negotiations had begun with institutions in the Gulf kingdom to put forward names of eligible women. The final decision on the chosen 30 will lie with a high-level panel headed by King Abdullah, the newspaper reported.

Initial criteria are that females must be over 30-years old and hold Saudi Arabian citizenship.

Saudi Arabia, the most populous country in the Gulf, enforces strict segregation of males and females throughout many aspects of day-to-day life.

Women are prohibited from driving and must obtain their husband or another male guardian’s permission to take employment or travel.

Last year, King Abullah announced that women would be permitted to vote and stand in municipal elections from 2015.

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