You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Saudi king OK’s women on council

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s king granted women seats on the country’s top advisory council for the first time on Friday, giving them a long-awaited toehold in the ultraconservative kingdom’s male-dominated political system.

King Abdullah’s decrees come against the backdrop of heavy restrictions on women, who are not allowed to travel, work, study abroad, marry, get divorced, or gain admittance to a public hospital without permission from a male guardian. Recently, airport authorities were instructed to send text messages to the phones of male guardians — husbands, fathers, or brothers — with information about the movements of their wives, daughters, or sisters.

Continue reading below

‘‘The decision is good but women issues are still hanging,’’ said Wajeha al-Hawidar, a prominent Saudi female activist. ‘‘For normal women, there are so many laws and measures that must be suspended or amended for women to be dealt with as grown-ups and adults, without a mandate from guardians.’’

But she said that having female members on the council could help to change the image of women in society.

‘‘Men can finally respect women when they see them playing a [traditional] male role,’’ she said.

The nation’s official news agency said the king issued two royal decrees granting women 30 seats on the Shura Council, which has 150 members plus a president.

The council reviews laws and questions ministers, but does not have legislative powers.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.