A council supporting the welfare of women and girls in Saudi Arabia was missing something: the girls themselves.
The first ever girls council in the country’s al-Qassim province was launched Monday. Pictures of the launch show 13 men –and no women—on stage.
The launch was led by Prince Faisal bin Michal bin Saud, and the council is chaired by his wife, Princess Abir bint Salman.
But thanks to the country’s strict gender codes, she wasn’t able to be at the launch. Instead, she, along with the other women on the council were video-conferenced into the event, the BBC reports.
People were quick to note the lack of women at the event on social media.
“Satire? Comedy? No. This is actually happening,” Sarah Abdallah, a Lebanese writer, tweeted.
In Saudi Arabia, laws are very strict about what women wear and who they can interact with – specifically, unrelated women and men cannot intermingle. Women also must live under the supervision of a male guardian and are not allowed to drive.
But the outlook is changing, along with the Girls Council, which is supposed to promote the welfare of women in the province, women can now sit on the government advisory Shura Council, vote in municipal elections and work in some retail and hospitality jobs.
The government’s Vision 2030 is also trying to diversify the oil-reliant economy by boosting female employment.
“In the Qassim region, we look at women as sisters to men, and we feel a responsibility to open up more and more opportunities that will serve the work of women and girls,” Saud said at the launch, BBC reported.
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*With files from Reuters