Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Allows Women to Join Advisory Council

They still can't drive or vote

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Women are not allowed to drive and cannot yet vote in Saudi Arabia, but on Friday they were given a voice in an advisory council that debates the kingdom's legislation.

The Saudi king, Abdullah, issued a decree that for the first time gave women seats on the Shura council, an assembly whose members are appointed to discuss laws and other issues and advise the king, but that has no legislative power. The decree, published by the official Saudi Press Agency, gave women 30 of the 150 seats on the council with all the duties of their male counterparts.

In line with a strict interpretation of Islam that segregates the population by sex in many areas of society, it added that women would wear hijab, a conservative Islamic head covering, and would use doors, offices and seating areas separate from the men.