Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah appointed 30 women to the 150-member consultative Shura Council yesterday, the first time women have been granted full membership.
King Abdullah also issued a decree that women should make up at least 20 per cent of the council.
He first suggested women would join the council in September 2011, as part of liberalisation that will also allow them to vote in municipal elections in 2015.
A second amendment to the legal code governing the Shura Council requires the new female members to "strictly follow the Islamic Sharia regulations, without any kind of violation", according to the decree.
The women will be separated from male members of the council. They will wear the hijab, have their own seating area, offices, space for prayer, and entrance to the building, the order said.