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G.I. Jamila: Riyadh could recruit first female soldiers for its expanding wars

The kingdom's female citizens are keen to make their mark in the Saudi workforce [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 February, 2018

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The Saudi army will begin recruiting female soldiers for the first time as it expands its wars in the region, but strict conditions may keep them in auxiliary positions.
Saudi Arabia has announced it will be recruiting women to its armed forces for the first time, as Riyadh continues to wage a devastating war in neighbouring Yemen.

The Saudi General Security Division made public that several regions of the kingdom - including Riyadh, Mecca and Madine - will soon start recruiting women as soldiers.

However, a set of 12 strict conditions that women must fulfil in order to be eligible could keep women in auxiliary rather than combat roles, according to Al-Arabiya.

The General Security Division is a subsidiary of the country's interior ministry and is charged with departments such as police, traffic control and interior security.

Women must be Saudi nationals aged 25-35, raised in the country with a minimum of high school education.

The criteria also stipulated that candidates must pass tests, interviews and a medical check up, and must not have worked for any government of military-affiliated institution previously.

Candidates must be over 155cm (5'1") in height and have a "good weight to height ratio," according to Al-Arabiya.

Despite some loosening of the country's draconian guardianship laws for women, a female candidate's guardian - a male relative usually a husband, father or brother - must reside in the same area as the job's location.

It was not made clear whether female recruits would need their male guardian's permission to apply.

Women married to non-Saudi nationals were also ruled ineligible.

Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor's office this month said it would begin recruiting women investigators for the first time.

The kingdom has also opened 140 positions for women at airports and border crossings, a historic first that the government said drew 107,000 female applicants.

The move is being touted as part of the wave of reforms aiming to bring the ultra-conservative kingdom into the twenty-first century, but women still face a host of restrictions across Saudi Arabia despite these steps.

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