S Arabia elects 17 women to local councils in historic poll
RIYADH (92 News) – Saudi Arabians have voted 17 women into public office in municipal elections in the Islamic kingdom, the first to allow female participation.
The election was the first in which women could vote and run as candidates, a landmark step in a country where women are barred from driving and are legally dependent on a male relative to approve almost all their major life decisions.
A total of 17 women had been elected in various parts of the country. “Even if it was only one woman, we’re really proud of that,” women’s rights activist Sahar Hassan Nasief said. “Honestly, we weren’t expecting anyone to win.”
The election was for only two thirds of seats in municipal councils that have no lawmaking or national powers, and follows men-only polls in 2005 and 2011.
Under King Abdullah, who died in January and who announced in 2011 that women would be able to vote in this election, steps were taken for women to have a bigger public role, sending more of them to university and encouraging female employment.