Saudi Women Can Now Join the Military for the First Time Ever
It’s a step toward gender equality, but not all options open to men will be open to women.
New career paths are slowly opening up to women in Saudi Arabia.
In the last year, the slight relaxation of the country’s male guardianship laws and restrictions on women mean that Saudi women can now open businesses without a man’s permission, can work as Uber drivers, and at airports and border crossings.
The move to begin recruiting female soldiers represents a step toward greater gender equality in the country, but not all military roles available to men will be available to women and women will have to meet different requirements.
Combat positions will not be open to women, the BBC reported.
Under the male guardianship system, a woman will still need the consent of her male guardian — usually her husband or a male relative — to apply for a position in the military, or any other job. And both she and her male guardian must live in the province that her military post would be in, the BBC reported.
Unlike men, who can volunteer to serve at age 17, women hoping to join the military must be between the ages of 25 and 35 and be of “good weight to height ratio,” according to the Saudi Gazette. Female applicants will also have to pass an acceptance test, a medical check up, and a personal interview.
Even with these requirements and limitations, if recent responses to increased job options for women are any indication, the Saudi military should anticipate a large number of applications.
In January, the government received more than 100,000 applications for just 140 jobs at airports and border crossings that it opened up to women showing that Saudi women are eager for opportunities to work.
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