Saudi authorities have appointed ten women to senior positions in Islam’s two most important holy sites, they said on Sunday, in a move to strengthen the role of women in the conservative Gulf country.
The appointment of women to prominent positions in religious institutions is rare in the Saudi kingdom, which has long kept Saudi women out of the labor market.
The latter saw the doors of the job market open from 2016.
The first Saudi women thus reached positions of responsibility, or worked in the service sector.
Sunday, a statement from the general presidency of the affairs of the two holy mosques of Mecca and Medina reports the appointment of 10 women in different departments, including administrative and technical.
A recruitment intended to “strengthen the power of action of highly capable and qualified Saudi women,” according to the text.
The two holy mosques previously recruited 41 women to leadership positions in 2018, according to local media.
The strengthening of women’s rights has taken place over the past four years under the leadership of the young Crown Prince Mohammed ben Salman as part of his “Vision 2030” plan, which aims to diversify the kingdom’s economy and end its dependence on the kingdom. oil.
Today, some women run banks, are business owners, border guards, police officers or even waitresses.
In the third quarter of 2019, Saudi women were more than one million working, representing a total of 35% of the country’s labor force.
They are also in the majority (84%) among job seekers in the country, which has a high unemployment rate.
In addition to accessing the job market, Saudi women can now also drive and obtain a passport without the permission of a male relative.
Despite these advances, the Crown Prince is the subject of strong criticism from NGOs, in particular due to increased repression of dissenting voices, such as those of activists who fought to obtain the right to drive and who were allegedly detained afterwards. tortured, according to their relatives.