Making history, the first batch of female Saudi Soldiers graduated from the Armed Forces Women’s Cadre Training Center of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces in September 2021 after 14 weeks of boot camp.
“The daily training program begins with the early morning inspection, then starts a physical training period under the supervision of the fitness trainers, then trainees get dismissed for breakfast, then start field training. Once done, the theoretical classes start,” trainer Manahil bint Saleh bin Humaid said.
The plan to allow Saudi women into the military was announced in 2019, though the first female Soldiers didn’t appear in public until deployed as guards in Mecca during the July 2021 hajj.
“One of the reasons that prompted me to join the Armed Forces is the feeling of security I get when I see men in uniform stand guard at public places providing security,” one female military graduate said. “And so when I was given the opportunity to contribute to that sense of security, I wasted no time.”
During the graduation ceremony, Maj. Gen. Adel bin Muhammed Al-Belwi, head of the Saudi Armed Forces Training and Indoctrination Directorate, delivered a speech in which he outlined the function of the Women’s Cadre Training Center.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 includes the promotion of gender equality. Saudi decision-makers ruled that the principles of contemporary women’s rights are consistent with those guaranteed by Islamic law.
Even more ambitiously, in 2018 the kingdom opened up positions for women within the General Security Directorate, the Ministry of Interior, and in seven of Saudi Arabia’s 13 regions: Riyadh, Mecca, al-Qassim, al-Madina, Assir, Ash-Sharqiya and Al-Baha. Since then, female workforce participation has grown.
Sources: CNN, Al Jazeera, Reuters