Saudi Womens' Role Reconsidered
Oct. 03, 1999
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) _ There is nothing to prevent Saudi women in this deeply conservative kingdom from attending meetings of the consultative council, the closest thing Saudi Arabia has to a parliament, the chief of the advisory body has said.
Sheik Mohammed bin Jubeir, who heads the 90-member council, told the official Saudi Press Agency late Saturday that the Riyadh-based council could benefit from women's opinions on several issues.
``In principle there is nothing that prevents women from attending the council's meetings as long as they abide by their ... traditions and religious principles,'' the agency quoted bin Jubeir as saying.
Women in Saudi Arabia have very limited rights. They must be veiled and segregated from men and are not allowed to drive or travel without a male guardian's permission.
``Society must benefit from women's experiences, and we at the Shura council ... can listen to women's opinions on issues that concern them ... or even issues that don't directly relate to them as women,'' bin Jubeir added, according to the agency.
It was not clear whether bin Jubeir meant that women would now be able to attend the weekly meetings of the council, but his remarks suggest the kingdom is considering allowing a larger role for women.