Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has sworn in 30 women to the previously all-male Shura Council, seen by many as a major step in female participation in public life in the conservative kingdom.
It is the first time in country’s history that women have been able to hold any political office.
The council advises the government on legislation and comprises 150 members.
Critics say the move is only symbolic, as the council cannot make laws and its members are all appointed by the king.
King Abdullah appeared on state television, welcoming the women at a swearing-in ceremony.
The monarch, seen as a proponent of gradual reform, has also granted women the right to vote and stand in the next municipal elections, scheduled for 2015.