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Woman appointed to Saudi Arabian health ministry

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Sarah Macshane
WVoN co-editor

In the latest sign of change in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Health this week announced the appointment of a woman, Dr Muneera bint Hamdan al-Osaimi, as the new assistant under-secretary for medical services affairs.

She is the first Saudi woman to hold such a key position within the inner circle of the health ministry.

The new structure will include one health minister, two deputy ministers, three under-secretaries and seven assistant under-secretaries.

In a country stepped in strict gender segregation her appointment marks another sign of the creeping reform that is currently taking place in Saudi Arabia.

Health ministry spokesman Dr Khalid Al-Mirghalani said it was evidence of “his department’s eagerness to encourage women into top public sector jobs.”

Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s worst records for women’s rights and equality. They are not allowed to drive and are forbidden from leaving the house without a male chaperone.

A royal decree allowing women to work in lingerie shops only came into effect in January of this year.

And although there was some talk of allowing one or two women to participate in the London Olympics, even this now seems unlikely.

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