Saudi activists are working on setting up a group that will promote women's rights in the kingdom, one of them said in remarks published Monday.
The social affairs ministry has given preliminary approval to the creation of "Ansar al-Maraah" (Supporters of Women) after two years of negotiations, Suliman al-Salman told the English-language daily Arab News.
Twenty-one men and women -- including researchers, academics and activists -- are involved in setting up the new body, which aims to "help women improve their social, educational and cultural levels," the newspaper said.
"The majority of women today are under the dominance of men" in Saudi Arabia and cannot be active members of society because of the restrictions imposed on them, Salman said.
"Helping women to get their rights, which are ignored or suppressed by law or customs, does not conflict with Islam, which does not prevent women from utilizing their own money, driving or choosing their own husbands," Salman said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations independent expert on women's rights said she will visit Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the government.
Yakin Erturk, the U.N. special rapporteur on violence against women, will visit Saudi Arabia from February 4 to February 13, according to a statement from her office in Geneva. She will report her findings to the UN Human Rights Council.