King Abdullah will likely be remembered as one of the most progressive leaders in Saudi Arabia’s history and particularly in regards to rights for Saudi women. His most significant action has been the recent appointment of 30 Saudi Saudi women to its Shura Council (Parliament).
The Shura Council is the formal advisory board in the Kingdom and where new laws are proposed. It is a historical time in Saudi Arabia’s history for the first 30 Saudi women to be inducted into its previously all-male domain since its establishment in 1927.
King Abdullah first made his pronouncement that females may become members of the council in September 2011. In January 2013 his pronouncement became a reality with women filling 30 of the 150 seats. It is now Saudi law that women must always hold at least a fifth of the seats on the council.
American Bedu has been in correspondence with several Saudi women and asked them for their reaction to the inception of women into Saudi’s Shura Council.
“This is the start of a huge change for women now.” remarked one Saudi woman who lives in Riyadh.
Another Saudi woman who was educated in the West and makes her home in Riyadh shared, “Personally, I wasn’t surprised they appointed women as full time shura members. I saw that step coming a few years back when they appointed Dr. Maha Almuneef along with other 6 women as a counsellor/advisor for alshura. I remember telling myself it was only a matter of time before they appoint them or other women full time members. Later on they increased the number to 12. And now they created the fulltime member positions. And mind you, my intuition was correct some of these 12 women are now the 2013′s members!
I have no opinion of the shura council in general, both men and women members. I do not believe they have authority or power to do anything really. A lot of members are some of my acquaintance’s fathers or relatives. I haven’t seen them doing anything in passion or excitement, some of them accepted the position to enjoy the perks and to add to their social prestige. and I will stop at this point.
Generally speaking, I think 2013 will be very important for women in Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah has always been keen to help out women and he is doing his best to keep his word. More positive actions will come to life in this specific aspect as well as others.”
In accordance with Saudi Arabia’s culture, male and female members will be segregrated. The new female members will be seated in a special area and enter the council through a separate door.
The newly appointed 30 women are identified as follows:
Her Royal Highness Princess/ Sarrah bint Faisal bin Abdulaziz
2. Dr./ Amal bint Salamah bin Sulaiman Al-Shaman
3. Dr. / Thuraya bint Ahmed bin Obeid bin Mohammed Obeid
4. Dr. / Thuraya bint Ibrahim bin Hussein al-Arrayed
5. Dr. / Al-Jawharah bint Ibrahim bin Mohammed Bu-Besht
6. Dr./ Hamdah bint Khalaf bin Miqbel Al-Enzy
7. Dr./ Hanan bint Abdulraheem bin Mutlaq Al-Ahmadi
8. Dr./ Hayat bint Sulaiman bin Hasan Sindi
9. Dr. / Dalal bint Mekhled bin Jahez Al-Harbi
10. Dr./ Zainet bint Muthanna bin Abduou Abu-Taleb
11. Dr. / Elham bint Mahjoub bin Ahmed Hasanain
12. Dr./ Salwa bint Abdullah bin Fahad Al-Hazaa
13. Dr. / Fatima bint Mohammed bin Mohsen Al Saeed Al-Qarni
14. Dr. / Fadwa bint Salamah bin Odeh Abu Marifah
15. Dr. / Fardous bint Saud bin Mohammed Al-Saleh
16. Dr. / Khawla Bint Sami Alkrie
17. Dr. / Lubna bint Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al-Tayeb
18. Dr. / Latifa bint Othman bin Ibrahim Al-Shaalan
19. Dr. / Mastourah bint Obaid bin Lafi Al-Husseini Al-Shammari
20. Dr. / Muna bint Abdullah bin Saeed Al Mushayt
21. Dr. / Muna bint Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Dosari
22. Her Royal Highness Princess / Moudi bint Khalid bin Abdulaziz
23. Dr. / Moudi bint Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Dugaither
24. Dr. / Nihad bint Mohammed Saeed bin Ahmed Al-Jeshi
25. Dr. / Nora bint Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Mubarak
26. Dr. / Nora bint Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Asqah
27. Dr. / Nora bint Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al-Adwan
28. Ms. / Huda bint Abdulrahman bin Saleh Al-Halisi
29. Dr. / Hia bint Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al-Manea
30. Dr. / Wafa bint Mahmoud bin Abdullah Taibah