Women appointed to Saudi Arabia's Consultative Council for the first time ever


Saudi women wait for their drivers outside a shopping mall in Riyadh on September 26, 2011 a day after King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in municipal elections, in a historic first for the ultra-conservative country where women are subjected to many restrictions.


Fayez Nureldine

Thirty women have been appointed to Saudi Arabia's Consultative Council, marking the first time that they have been allowed to serve in the decision-making body.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah made the appointments to the Shura Council, as it is also known, soon after decreeing that women must make up 20 percent of the 150-member body from here on out, reported Bloomberg.

Read more from GlobalPost: Saudi Arabia beheads Rizana Nafeek

The Council functions as Saudi Arabia's formal advisory body and has the ability to propose draft laws to the King, said Al-Arabiya News.

According to the BBC, women will have separate seating from men on the council, and will also use different exits and entrances.

In 2011, Abdullah granted women the right to vote and to run in municipal elections, which was hailed as a sign that the notoriously conservative country is moving slowly in a more equal direction.

Women still are not permitted to drive in oil-rich Saudi Arabia, and to leave the country must seek the permission of a male family member (who can now be informed electronically if women do attempt to depart).

Read more from GlobalPost: Saudi Arabia women monitored using electronic tracking techniques

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia beheaded a Sri Lankan maid for killing a baby, in an execution that took place against the pleas of international human rights organizations and the Sri Lankan government.

Rizana Nafeek was 17 at the time of the 2005 incident, causing Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to protest that the execution violated the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child.