Saudi Arabia appoints woman as head of human rights watchdog for first time
King Salman bin Abdulaziz issued a royal decree on Thursday, appointing Hala Altuwaijri as the new head of the kingdom’s Human Rights Commission with the rank of minister.
Altuwaijri, the first woman to hold the appointed position, according to The National, will replace Awwad bin Saleh al-Awwad in her new role.
"I have the honour of expressing my highest thanks and appreciation… for the generous royal trust in appointing me as the head of the Human Rights Commission... I ask God Almighty to help me to serve the religion and the nation," Altuwaijri wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
يشرفني أن أرفع أسمى آيات الشكر والتقدير لمقام سيدي خادم الحرمين الشريفين ولمقام سمو سيدي ولي العهد -حفظهما الله- على الثقة الملكية الكريمة بتعييني رئيساً لهيئة حقوق الإنسان .. وأسأل الله عز وجل أن يوفقني لخدمة الدين والوطن.— Hala Altuwaijri (@AltuwaijriHala) September 22, 2022
Messages of support quickly flooded in for the new head, as many expressed "pride" that a woman was granted the position.
"All my congratulations... She is an honourable example for the Saudi woman of whom we are proud, and I ask God Almighty to grant her success," media consultant Halima Muthffar wrote on Twitter.
كل التهاني والتبريكات لمعالي الدكتورة هلا التويجري على الثقة الملكية وتعيينها رئيسا لهيئة حقوق الإنسان وهي مثال مشرف للمرأة السعودية التي نفخر بها وأسأل الله تعالى لها التوفيق والنجاح والسداد #المرأة_السعودية #التمكين #اليوم_الوطني_السعودي_92 https://t.co/7jlD6kyUgc— حليمة مُظفّر (@halimamuthffar) September 23, 2022
"We are all proud day after day, and we are pleased to hear that women have assumed leadership positions," Twitter user Noura Algaloud wrote.
"When we are in the era of efficiency is the basis and giving opportunities to all of women and men... congratulations Hala," Ohoud Alhejaili stated.
Although recent reforms have given women in Saudi Arabia more freedoms, human rights groups say that many of their rights remain restricted.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sought radical changes since becoming the kingdom's de-facto ruler, introducing laws allowing Saudi women to drive, relaxing rules on gender segregation, and curtailing the powers of the religious police.
He is also looking at an overhaul of the kingdom's sharia-based legal system and codified law, which it is argued will bring Saudi Arabia in line with rights norms elsewhere.
At the same time, the prince has been criticised for a crackdown on women's rights activists and other reformers.