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Details of women’s membership to be revealed soon- Shura Council Chief | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Chairman of the Shura Council confirmed to Asharq al-Awsat that women had been granted full membership, and that this measure described by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in his speech to the Shura Council is an “important” one. He also indicated that the participation of women in the Shura Council comes after King Abdullah consulted a number of ulema both domestically and abroad, who provided their opinions and advice.

Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Sheikh, chairman of the Shura Council, clarified that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques had provided the reasons behind his two important resolutions at the beginning of his speech. The first [resolution] relates to the introduction of women in the Shura Council as full members with votes, starting from the Council’s next session set to commence in 2013. The other resolution granted women the right to run in municipal council elections. The reasons provided by the King were the role of Islam, the pressing need which called for the participation of women whether in the Shura Council or at the level of municipal elections, and the fact that women are the equal sisters of men.

Al-Sheikh stressed that the operational steps taken by the Council regarding women’s participation would be completed soon. Al-Sheikh revealed that the Council already has about 12 female advisors who participate in consultative meetings on subjects that refer to them. They also attend meetings on topics that merit their attendance, and participate in forums that require their presence.

The chairman of the Shura council indicated that women’s full time participation necessitates a re-arrangement of halls and offices, and the regulation of entrances and exits, so that female members can enter the Council from a separate entrance.

Dr al-Sheikh revealed that at the present time the Shura Council does not have a complete visualisation of this project in terms of numbers, but he emphasized that female councillors would have their own entrance, and would have a role in issues even if they were non-family matters, where they would provide opinion and advice.

He went on to say: “women have proven their worth in studies, research and discussions in all matters that fall within the competence of the Council, through their work as part-time consultants to the Shura Council over the past years, and by representing the Council in international women’s parliamentary forums”.

He added “the Shura Council will implement the comprehensive content outlined in the royal decree, and will make a platform for action and a road map for studies and discussions on various topics, submitted to the Council’s agenda or its specialized committees”.

Dr. Abdullah pointed out that in the near future there will be an announcement relating to how women’s participation, membership, and voting will take place, and where.

Today the Shura Council held its 52nd regular session, headed by Dr Abdullah al-Sheikh. At the beginning of the meeting al-Sheikh spoke on behalf of the Council offering words of thanks and gratitude to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, who had honoured the Shura Council by giving his annual royal speech there during the third year of its fifth session, and who had crowned this occasion with the historic decision to allow women to participate as Shura Council members, starting from the next session and in accordance with Sharia law.

Al-Sheikh stressed that this wise decision comes in recognition of the fact that Saudi women have achieved a high degree of education, and competence and expertise in various disciplines. They have assumed many leadership positions in education, health, administrative, economic and social areas, and thus they have been granted the right to have a say in various issues pertaining to their homeland.

The chairman of the Shura Council was full of admiration for the royal speech, which stressed national unity and the need to strengthen it, something that will be at the heart of the Council’s concerns and discussions in the coming period.

Dr. al-Sheikh praised the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and his interest in the development of rights in the country, his work to achieve more prosperity for citizens and improve living conditions, his work to overcome all difficulties and harness efforts, and his pursuit of progress to achieve development in all parts of the country, in various fields.

The chairman of the Council also praised what the King’s wise speech and its emphasis on Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy, which is based on relations, built on respect, cooperation, dialogue and peace between nations and peoples. It also seeks to serve Arab and Islamic issues, particularly the Palestinian cause, alongside establishing relations between the Gulf Cooperation Council states, as their security is an integral part of the security of the Kingdom. This was a policy outlined by the founder King Abdul Aziz, may God have mercy on him, and his sons have walked down the same path. These policies, both domestically and abroad, have established a coherent homeland and gained the appreciation of countries worldwide.

With regards to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques choosing the Shura Council platform to address his citizens, and detail important issues relating to national affairs, this underlines the importance of the role of the Council, and its presence as one of the most significant institutions in the country. The Council has found widespread support and respect, and is now expected to keep pace with these estimations and achieve the hopes of the citizens.