A picture of a Saudi female Royal Guard standing beside her colleague circulated on Twitter, highlighting the gains Saudi women have recently made from new employment opportunities to more social freedoms.
For years, Saudi women were unable to serve in the military or drive, and strict guardianship laws limited their freedom of movement.
But now, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan, women have earned more rights and freedoms. In February 2018, Saudi Arabia gave women the opportunity to join the military working in security services for the interior ministry, departments of criminal investigations, security patrol and pilgrimage security. In October 2019, the Kingdom opened the armed forces to women, saying they would be able to serve in the ranks of private first class, corporal or sergeant.
Prince Sattam bin Khaled al-Saud tweeted the photo, saying “One of the duties of the Royal Guard is to provide protection and security for the king and his guests during celebrations and conferences. Accordingly, the role of women in the Royal Guard will be to accompany the guests or women delegations that accompany the guests and deal with them and this is a beautiful and important thing.”
It is unclear when the photo was taken.
Another account, Saudi Women Stories, tweeted saying the photo was “an honorable and beautiful image of Saudi women in the Royal Guard.
The Royal Guards mission is to protect the House of al-Saud, and units of the Royal Guard protect the royal family around the clock.
Guard members also perform duties as professional soldiers and have a reputation as some of the most elite and skilled soldiers in the Saudi Army, Gulf News reported.
In 2018, when women first made inroads to serving in the military, around 20 percent of the Saudi female population was unemployed, according to World Bank figures. Part of Vision 2030 is to provide more jobs to Saudi citizens, including women.
As the Kingdom seeks to modernize, women earned the right to drive in June 2019. A few months later in August, the long-standing guardian laws reformed and women no longer required permission from a male guardian to obtain a passport and travel abroad, and also gained the right to register births of their children, obtain family records, and live apart from their husbands.
At the time, Princess Reema Bandar al-Saud, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States tweeted “These new regulations are history in the making.”
These new regulations are history in the making. They call for the equal engagement of women and men in our society. It is a holistic approach to gender equality that will unquestionably create real change for Saudi women. 3/4— Reema Bandar Al-Saud (@rbalsaud) August 2, 2019
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