Saudi women applying to join military for first time

For the first time, women in Saudi Arabia are registering to join the Persian Gulf nation’s armed forces.

Women in Saudi Arabia began applying to join the nation's military for the first time this week, as part of a national social reform initiative. File Photo by EPA-EFE/STR
Women in Saudi Arabia began applying to join the nation’s military for the first time this week, as part of a national social reform initiative. File Photo by EPA-EFE/STR

The Saudi military is accepting applications this week, officials said, just days after it was announced that women are now eligible to join.

Saudi women will not be able to work in combat positions, but they will have the opportunity to work in security, military officials said.

According to the Saudi General Directorate of Public Security, women who join must meet a set of criteria — including Saudi citizenship, they are between the ages of 25 and 35 and they must have a high school diploma.

Officials said successful applicants could fill a military role in the capital of Riyadh or one of several other locations.

The elevation of status for Saudi women is part of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s “2030 Vision” — a plan to reduce Saudi dependence on oil, diversify economically and develop public service sectors.

Women are also making advances under the initiative in fields like business. For instance, women are no longer required to obtain permission to launch a business.

Other social reforms in Saudi Arabia include women being allowed into soccer stadiums — which resulted from another push for reform. Saudi Arabia was ranked No. 141 out of 144 in gender equality in the 2016 World Economic Forum. In June, Women will also be allowed allowed to drive vehicles with men for the first time.

By Sommer Brokaw