Today is a historic moment for Saudi Arabia as King Abdullah has signed a decree allowing women to participate in the Kingdom's Shura Council, which until now, had been an all-male enclave.
King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has signed a decree ensuring the country's parliament introduces a quota of 20 percent women. He followed the decree by appointing 30 women to the 150 member Shura council, Al Arabiya reported.
The change was anticipated. When King Abdullah granted women the right to vote in September 2011 he promised "to involve women in the Shura Council as members, starting from the next term." However, women have not exercised their new found right to vote as no elections have been held.
The Saudi King announced two changes to the current statute of the council to allow women to participate. The amendments state: "The woman enjoys in her membership at the Shura Council complete membership rights and abides by the obligations, and responsibilities and assumes tasks."
Women will work in separate quarters to male members, with their own entrance and exit gate. They will be obliged to "commit to the principles of Islamic Shariah without any breach whatsoever and observe proper hijab.."
The inclusion of women in the Shura Council is a remarkable step forward for Saudi females. They may now have the opportunity to propose legislation allowing Saudi women the right to drive.