Thirty women sworn in Saudi Arabia's Shura Council
Thirty Saudi women sworn in before King Abdullah to take their seats in Saudi Arabia's Shura Council (an advisory body), for the first time in the conservative kingdom's history. The women took their seats in the same room with their 130 male colleagues and were sworn in collectively.
The king appointed the women, which include university graduates, human rights activists and two princesses, to the body, also known as the Saudi Consultative Council signalling a gradual change in the mindset of the conservative kingdom known to put stringent restrictions on women, with females banned from driving and denied theright to travel without the consent of a male guardian.
The decisions were taken following consultations with religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict version of Islamic law. Abdullah has been carefully treading towards change, introducing municipal elections for the first time in 2005. In 2011, he granted women the right to vote and run as candidates inthe next local election, set for 2015, saying "we refuse to marginalise women's role in Saudi society".