Saudi Arabia allows women to join border guard forces

Saudi Arabia allows women to join border guard forces
Rights groups say the changes are a mere smokescreen as women's rights in Saudi Arabia remain strictly limited.
2 min read
25 March, 2022
Saudi border officials patrol the kingdom's southern border with Yemen [Getty]

Saudi women will be able to join the country's national border force,  an interior ministry statement said on Thursday, without elaborating on whether they will require their male guardian's permission before applying.

Women can join the forces at the rank of private, the statement said, adding that applications will open on the ministry's website for a five-day period from Sunday 26 March.

The move came as Saudi Arabia sought to increase the participation of women in various areas of public life. 

In September, the first group of Saudi women soldiers graduated from the Armed Forces Women’s Cadre Training Centre, after completing 14 weeks of training. They are now on active service, according to local media reports.

The general directorate of border guards first announced plans to hire women for service in June 2018.

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The development came as part of Saudi Prince Mohamed bin Salman's VIsion 2030 to liberalise the ultra-conservative kingdom and oversee strides in women's rights.

In 2019, a decree was issued allowing women to travel abroad without permission from their guardians. Amendments that year also allowed women to register childbirth, marriage or divorce to be issued essential documents.

However, rights groups have said that Saudi women's activists are still silenced, with discourse and mobilisation around women's rights heavily curtailed and many women rights activists put behind bars in Saudi Arabia.