The Saudi Arabian Armed Forces launched the first military section for women ever, on Sunday, giving women the chance to hold senior ranks in the force.

The director general of admission and enlistment, Maj. Gen. Imad Al-Aidan, explained on Sunday the criteria of acceptance, and allocated locations where the female staff will be stationed.

This comes as part of the initiative announced in October 2019 to incorporate women in the military, which allows them to join as lance corporals, corporals, sergeants, and staff sergeants in the Royal Saudi Land Forces, Air Force, Saudi Arabian Navy, Air Defense Forces, Strategic Missile Forces and Armed Forces Medical Services.

This comes in the context of a large amount of reforms since last year - under the Saudi Vision 2030 Program – which aims to empower women, incorporate them into different labour markets, and give them leadership positions.

However, while these reforms are happening, there continues to be a crackdown on Saudi feminist activists and academics, raising concerns over the treatment of women’s rights in the Kingdom in parallel to the more formal and official changes on paper.