Hanan Al Ahmadi
The Shura Council in Saudi Arabia is a consultative assembly whose functions include the exchange of opinions reflecting the public interest, drafting, and issuing laws approved by King Salman. The power of enforcing laws lies in the hands of King Salman only but the Shura Council plays the crucial role of laying the groundwork and suggesting new directions to better different aspects of life in the Kingdom.
There are currently 150 council members made up of scholars, educators, specialists and prominent members of society with expertise in their respective fields, chosen by the King and serving a four-year term. In recent years, Saudi Arabia established a sweeping wave of reforms encouraging equal opportunities and diminishing gender bias and segregation.
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And as of October 2017, women make up 20% of the Assembly’s total number, slightly more than the 115th United States Congress (19.3%). Not only does strong Saudi female presence in the Shura Council demonstrate women empowerment in the Kingdom but is a powerful indicator that women are also the drivers of change moving the country forward.
Here are some Saudi female members at the Shura Council:
Hanan Al Ahmadi
Hanan Al Ahmadi is an Associate Professor of Health Administration at the Institute of Public Administration in Saudi Arabia, and a member of the kingdom’s Shura Council. When she was appointed to the Shura Council, Al Ahmadi experienced mixed reactions from Saudi society, but she was happy to find that most were supportive of women being able to take up such positions. Al Ahmadi worked on recommendations such as the alimony fund for women and their children, the establishment of an executive body handling domestic violence cases, and many more.
Iqbal Zain Al Abedin Darandri
A qualified expert in statistics and research fields, Iqbal Darandri has a strong voice within the Shura Council and has voiced her ideas for a progressive and inclusive society, including supporting a proposal allowing Saudi women married to non-Saudi men to give their children the Saudi nationality. She also supported the decision for military training for both male and female Saudi citizens to be mandatory.
Mody AlKhalaf is a former Saudi diplomat considered to be one of the first women to hold such position in the Kingdom. With a PhD in Applied Linguistics, Al Khalaf is an advocate of women’s rights and has written about issues discussed in both English and Arabic.
Dr. Hamda Maqbool Al-Joufi
Dr. Al-Joufi has a doctorate from Princess Noura University in Riyadh. When she was appointed to the Shura Council, she made a statement saying, “I thank King Salman for nominating and appointing me to the council and my joining of the Shura is evidence of the trust Saudi leadership has on Saudi women and their place in society.”
Lina Almaeena is a Saudi writer and member of the Young Saudi Business Committee and Sports Investment Committee in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and the Kingdom Young Business Women Council. The inspirational Saudi woman was listed as one of the 200 Most Powerful Women in the Middle East by Forbes Magazine 2014 and is also the founder and team captain of Jeddah United, the first local sports company in Jeddah promoting sports among women and youth. “It’s a golden age for Saudis and, as women, we’ve come a long way. We’re living an era of historical change, and we’re making up for lost time,” she told Arab News.
Dr. Latifah Ashaalan
Dr. Latifah Ashaalan is a Saudi writer and Associate Professor of Psychology at Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University. She has a weekly column writing on women’s issues with al-Hayat newspaper and is also a vocal member of the kingdom’s Shura Council. In 2018, Ashaalan, alongside another female council member called upon the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to use its supervisory role in the Kingdom’s private sector to close the pay gap between men and women.
Stay tuned for more coverage on the game-changing work of female Shura Council members.