The first female members of Saudi Arabia's Shura Council were sworn in by King Abdullah on Tuesday.
The Shura Council, composed of 150 members, councils the government in decisions regarding legislation. However, the Council does not have legislative powers itself and all members are appointed by the king. 30 women now hold seats on the Council, which is the first time women have held public office in the country.
Thuraya al-Arrayed, one of the 30 new female Council members told the BBC "I must say it's an historic occasion. I'm honoured to be part of it. If it works, if it is positive then it will change the attitudes that are still worrying about the participation of women. I'm not just talking about the Shura Council, I'm talking about the empowerment of women and their participation in the general affairs of the country."
Despite this advancement, women in Saudi Arabia face limited public involvement. In 2011, the King granted women the right to vote and run for public office as early as 2015. Despite gaining the right to vote, Saudi women still have to rely on male relatives or paid drivers to get around by car due to a religious edict issued by Muslim clerics. Women are also being tracked by text message.
Media Resources: BBC 2/20/2013; Al Arabiya 2/19/2013; Feminist Newswire 11/27/2012, 9/26/2012, 6/17/2011
12/9/2013 Mixed Results for Afghanistan's Anti-Violence Against Women Law - The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released their annual report on violence against women in Afghanistan yesterday, revealing mixed results of the country's Elimination of Violence against Women Law.
"A Way to Go: An Update on Implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan [PDF]," found that there was a 28 percent increase in reports of violence against women from 2012 to 2013 , but only 17 percent of those were prosecuted under EVAW - a small 2 percent increase from last year.
The law, which was issued by the executive decree of President Hamid Karzai in 2009, criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .