Arab News reports that Saudi Arabia’s next Shoura Council — whose members are expected to be announced on Jan. 15 — will include 15 women. This is in complying with King Abdullah’s last year order that it be done. Speculation is running hard trying to guess just who might be appointed. While having women on the Council is indeed an important breakthrough, the number of members still represents only 10% of the membership while women represent closer to 50% of society. It is a start, however. The next step is to start having some of the Shoura Council positions filled through elections.
New-look Shoura to have 15 women
P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR
JEDDAH: Saudis are eagerly looking forward to the appointment of women on the 150-member Shoura Council with great hope and believe the move would further empower women and enhance the Kingdom’s reputation.
Abdullah Omar Naseef, former vice president of the Shoura, said the names of new Shoura members including women are likely to be announced next week. “According to the law, the new members are supposed to be announced on Jan. 15,” he told Arab News.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah made history when he announced in September 2011 that women would be appointed on the Shoura and allowed to vote and contest municipal elections.
“We refuse to marginalize women in Saudi society,” said the king, a champion of women empowerment, adding that many scholars have supported his decision. “Muslim women in our history have had stances that cannot be sidelined,” the king pointed out.
According to informed sources, the new Shoura Council will have at least 15 women members or 10 percent of its total number of members. Prominent personalities have been nominated to take up the challenging position. They are Al-Jowhara Al-Anqari, Asiya Al-Asheikh, Maha Al-Muneef, Mee Al-Eissa, Fatma Jamjoom, Jowhara Bubsheet, Mahasin Flimban, Noura Al-Asqa, Elham Hasanain, Wafa Taiba, Baheeja Baha Ezzi and Nihad Al-Jashi. All of them hold doctorate degrees in various specializations and work as consultants at the Shoura.
Other names that are likely on the new Shoura are: Huda Al-Ameel, rector of Princess Noura University in Riyadh, who holds a doctorate in education from the University of Wales in the UK; Mouda Al-Zahrani, supervisor of women’s protection department in Riyadh, who holds a doctorate in psychology from Columbus University in the US; and Noora Al-Fayez, current deputy minister of education.