Successful step,says first Saudi woman minister

Norah Al-Fayez,the first woman to be named to a ministerial post in Saudi Arabia,has put a crack in the thick glass ceiling...

Written by Agence France Presse | Riyadh | Published: February 16, 2009 12:24:01 am

Norah Al-Fayez,the first woman to be named to a ministerial post in Saudi Arabia,has put a crack in the thick glass ceiling that the country’s strict version of Islam sets against women. The veteran education administrator was named to the post of deputy education minister for women’s education as part of a sweeping shakeup of the government announced Saturday by the country’s reform-minded monarch King Abdullah.

Saudis cheered King Abdullah’s shakeup as a bold step forward. “This is a successful step. We’ve suffered from having a man occupy the position overseeing women’s education,” an English-language Arab News newspaper quoted her as saying.

Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi school of Islam imposes a separation of unrelated members of the opposite sexes,forces women to be shrouded in burqa from head to toe,bans them from driving,keeps them dependent on male guardians.

In major changes that targetted conservative religious clerics,King Abdullah replaced Supreme Judicial Council head Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaidan.

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