Human Rights Watch praises Saudi reform on girl sports

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Human Rights Watch on Thursday welcomed an "overdue" reform in Saudi Arabia to allow girls to take part in sports at state schools.

The education ministry on Tuesday said state schools for girls would offer physical education from the next academic year providing they had the facilities.

"This overdue reform is absolutely crucial for Saudi girls, who have been denied their basic human right to health through exercise, joining teams, and the long-term health, economic, and education benefits of sports," Human Rights Watch's Minky Worden said.

The statement added that "this important step forward can advance human rights and health for women.”

Saudi Arabia was represented by four female athletes at the 2016 Olympics, up from just two in 2012.

A Saudi state school for the first time introduced sports for girls in 2014, after a consultative council recommended the ban on women in sports be scrapped. (MORE DETAILS)

And last year, Saudi Arabia appointed a princess to oversee women's sports in the kingdom.

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The move to provide physical education for girls is part of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious ‘Vision 2030’, a reforms designed to modernize the Kingdom’s economy and wean it off its dependence on oil revenue.