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Human rights group welcomes Saudi Arabian reform on school sport for girls
Human Rights campaigners have welcomed an "overdue" reform from the Saudi Arabian Government to allow girls to take part in sports at state schools.
Saudi Arabia's Education Ministry has said that schools in the ultra-conservative kingdom will offer physical education from the next academic year providing they had the facilities.
Human Rights Watch spokesperson Minky Worden commented "this overdue reform is absolutely crucial for Saudi girls, who have been denied their basic human right to health through exercise, joining teams, and the long-term health, economic, and education benefits of sports.
"This important step forward can advance human rights and health for women despite the daunting legal hurdles that remain in the country."
Saudi Arabia has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women and is the only country where they are not allowed to drive.
Under the country's guardianship system, a male family member - normally the father, husband or brother - must grant permission for a woman's study, travel and other activities.
Women are also effectively barred from sports arenas by strict rules on segregation of the sexes in public.
The Education Ministry said introducing sport classes in girls schools come as part of the kingdom's 'Vision 2030' plan for economic and social reforms.
In February, the nation’s General Authority of Sports announced that it would begin issuing licences for women’s gyms while last year royal family princess was appointed to oversee women's sports in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia was represented by four female athletes at the 2016 Olympics, up from just two in 2012.
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