Saudi Arabia swears in first women on Shura Council

  • Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has sworn in 30 women to the previously all-male Shura Council.

    The move is seen by many as a major victory towards female participation in public life in the conservative kingdom.

    It marks the first time in the country's history that women have been able to hold any political office.

    The council advises the government on legislation and is made up of 150 members.

    However, some critics say the move is only symbolic as the council cannot make laws.

    King Abdullah appeared on state television on Wednesday, welcoming the women at a swearing-in ceremony.

    King Abdullah, who has long been pushing for women to play a more active role in Saudi society, has also granted women the right to vote and stand in the next municipal elections, scheduled for 2015.

    Women in Saudi Arabia are forbidden from driving and excluded from holding high political office. They are also unable to travel without permission from a male guardian and are not allowed to mix with unrelated men.

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