King Abdullah swears in first women to Saudi Arabia's Shura Council

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 4:32am


Thirty Saudi women took seats in Saudi Arabia's Shura Council for the first time in the ultra-conservative kingdom's history, as they were sworn in before King Abdullah yesterday in Riyadh.

The women took their seats in the same room with 130 male colleagues and were sworn in collectively, state television said.

"The development we are working at must be gradual," King Abdullah said.

The king appointed the women, who include university graduates, human rights activists and two princesses.

His decree marked a breakthrough in the kingdom that imposes stringent restrictions on women, who are banned from driving and cannot travel without the consent of a male guardian.

The monarch took the decisions following consultations with religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict version of Islamic sharia law.

In 2011, he granted women the right to vote and contest the next local election in 2015.