Saudi Arabia will admit women into stadiums for major sports events for the first time starting next year, the government says. Women are currently banned from entering sports stadiums in the kingdom, in keeping with the country’s strict social rules.

The Wall Street Journal reports the shift “marks another small but symbolic step toward greater gender equity” in Saudi Arabia. “(T)ribal customs and an austere interpretation of Sunni Islam have long combined to create an ultraconservative society where women in particular are harshly restricted,” the news outlet says.

In September, Saudi King Salman announced his country would begin allowing women to drive cars, starting in June 2018. The Journal says the recent moves are designed to “open the country’s oil-dependent economy to the outside world.”

Still, the story points out that “many of the harshest restrictions remain in place.” For example, “women are still legally required to have a male guardian – typically a father, husband or even a son – whose permission they need to travel abroad or marry, for instance.”

Read the full article here at The Wall Street Journal.


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