The three-kilometre run was a giant leap forward for women’s sporting opportunities in the kingdom.
More than 1,500 women pounded the pavement in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, as the kingdom held its first all-female race.
The three-kilometre al-Ahsa “marathon” was held in Al Ahsa over the weekend, with women from the kingdom, as well as the US and Taiwan, taking part.
Mizna Al Nassar took out first place with her 15-minute run, and revealed her hopes to represent Saudi in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
— علي المشعل (@AliAlmeshaal) March 3, 2018
The race was the first of its kind to be held in the kingdom, the publication added, with many participants competing in a hijab and abaya.
الفائزين بماراثون الحسا تركض فئة الإناث (3 كيلو) .🏅🏅
المركز الاول: مزنه النصار
المركز الثاني: اماندا جويس
المركز الثالث: سانغ سونغ
— مستشفى الموسى (@almoosahospital) March 3, 2018
Classes will be introduced “gradually” and “in accordance with (Islamic) Shariah regulations”, AP reports, adding that it’s not yet known if they will form part of the curriculum.
The move comes after years of calls from activists to give women greater access to exercise, in a country where almost 50 per cent of women were found to be physically inactive in a government study.
The Ministry of Education revealed in a statement that the introduction of PE classes comes as part of Vision 2030, the kingdom’s post-oil economy plans to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.
Last September, a royal decree revealed women will be able to secure driving licences from June 2018, with the news widely celebrated around the globe.
As part of the initiative, the government also aims to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020.
Additionally, more Saudi females have been appointed to top jobs, a royal directive allowed women to use certain government services without a male guardian’s consent, and recent approval was issued for the go-ahead of women’s gyms.
Images: Almoosa Specialist Hospital/Twitter