Saudi Arabia Elects 20 Women To Councils In Milestone Polls

The milestone municipal council elections held Saturday, December 12, in Saudi Arabia have elected twenty women, for the first time in nation’s history, for the local government seats.

The 20 women candidates hail from different parts of the country ranging from metropolitan city to small village to place of holiest site.

However, the twenty candidates just represent one percent of the total more than 2,000 seats, but at least it is being seen by analysts as a step forward for the Saudi women who were earlier barred from voting and also contesting the elections.

The women in Saudi Arabia are governed by guardianship laws under which men enjoy the final say over aspects of their lives like higher education, travel and also marriage.

As of now there is no quotas for women council members, but the king can use his powers in appointing more women in the additional 1,050 seats.

The first municipal council elections were held in 2005 and half of the seats were chosen by male voters only. In 2011 the Saudi Arabian women campaigned for the right to participate in the elections. Even several women tried registering in Dammam, Riyadh and jeddah to cast vote. King Abdullah thereafter, few days ahead of the elections, announced the women would take part in the 2015 election.

In Saudi Arabia two-thirds of the council seats are election by voters where as the remaining by the king.

For Saturday’s elections the voter registration started on August 16 in two holiest cities – Mecca and Medina. In the other areas the same started on August 22 and continued for a period of 21 days.