Saudi Arabia said that it will grant girls in public schools access to physical education, a decision that comes after years of calls by women across the kingdom demanding greater rights and access to sports.
The Education Ministry said it will introduce the physical education classes “gradually” and “in accordance with (Islamic) Shariah regulations.”
The decision to allow girls to play sports in public schools is significant in Saudi Arabia because women taking part in exercise is still seen as a taboo.
Some of the kingdom’s ultraconservatives shun the concept of women’s exercise as “immodest” and say it blurs gender lines.
Despite incremental openings for Saudi women, tight restrictions remain in place. Women are banned from driving and must seek the permission of a male guardian to travel abroad or obtain a passport.
Boys and girls are segregated in schools and university to prevent unrelated males and females from mixing.