RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabian girls will be allowed to play sports in private schools for the first time, according to a decision announced on Saturday, the latest in a series of incremental changes aimed at slowly increasing women’s rights in the ultraconservative kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’s official press agency, SPA, reported that private girls schools are now allowed to hold sports activities in accordance with the rules of Shariah, or Islamic law.
Students must adhere to “decent dress” codes and Saudi women teachers will be given priority in supervising the activities, according to the Education Ministry’s requirements.
The decision makes sports once again a stage for the push to improve women’s rights.
Saudi Arabia allowed two female athletes to compete in last summer’s Olympics only after the International Olympics Committee had put intense pressure on the kingdom to end its practice of sending only male teams to the games. Their participation was not shown on Saudi TV stations.