Saudi Arabia - January 2023
More rights and opportunities for Saudi women
Several milestones were recorded in January for women’s inclusion and empowerment. More than 250 women graduated from training to join the Saudi Armed Forces, the first ones to do so since the country opened up military recruitment to women in February 2022. Similarly, more than 30 women became qualified operators in the high-speed rail network. On 14 January, lawyer Jood Al Harthi became the first Saudi woman to be appointed as political affairs officer at the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in New York. Saudi Arabia also hosted its first-ever women’s international friendly football tournament and the country’s first female international referee was appointed by FIFA. Saudi women now comprise 37 per cent of the workforce and the efforts come as part of government reforms to strengthen women’s rights. Gender equality has been advanced most notably in the laws surrounding traffic, travel documentation, civil status, labour and social insurance. Nevertheless, despite the reforms and opportunities joining the labour market, women in Saudi Arabia still face several forms of discrimination on a legal and social level and the Saudi government continues to target and repress women's rights activists and movements.