Women voting in Saudi Arabia

Neil MacFarquhar from the New York Times reported this morning that women in Saudi Arabia will have the right to run and vote in municiapl elections starting in 2015.  While this is an extremely exciting development for women in that nation, many feel that it isn’t enough.

Yes, women have the right to vote and run in local election.  However, they don’t have the right to drive or leave the house without a male chaperone (in most cases.) I feel that it will be interesting to see what happens when a woman does win a local position, specifically because society is strictly segregated by gender.

Sabria Jawhar of the Huffinton Post says, “It’s a proud moment for Saudi women to win this victory. However, this isn’t the end. We must have municipal councils that are open to the public, encourage citizen participation, and be responsive to the public’s wants and needs. We are not anywhere near that since we have little transparency in local government. We must also tighten the rules in the electoral process to eliminate cross-district voting. We must also stop efforts to subvert elections with so-called “Golden Lists” that give the religious conservatives voter clout by again exploiting Saudis’ eagerness to elect “good” Muslims.”

What are your thoughts on this move by the king of Saudi Arabia?

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8 thoughts on “Women voting in Saudi Arabia

  1. I am frankly disgusted that it has taken until 2011 to pass this law, and women still won’t be able to vote there for several more years. Without sweeping changes to the power structure there, nothing will really change. It’s just window dressing.

  2. I would agree. I also feel that Saudi Arabia is somewhat backwards in how they give rights to women. For example, there are female professors who are very intelligent (clearly, they’re teaching at universities) and yet they’re not deemed intelligent enough to drive. Just seems plain ridiculous to me.

    1. I wonder about their reproductive rights and other issues that are of greater importance to them. How are they treated in the courts? What about property rights? What about access to employment? I think that the right to vote is really about something else, not about women’s rights. I just don’t know what it is yet.

  3. Yep, I have to agree too. Seems like they’re trying to suck up the the UN with ‘look how progressive we are’, whilst actually doing nothing.

    1. Ah. You might be onto it. Impressing the UN could be behind it. I just don’t trust that things are going to be better for the average woman in Saudi Arabia as a result of this law. Call me Skeptical.

      1. I sincerely hope that this is a move in the right direction for women, simply because if a woman gets elected to office it could make a big difference. But like you, I am fairly skeptical.

    1. Same here. My husband actually send me an article about that earlier today and I remember reading about that woman yesterday. If I recall correctly she’s a single mother that can’t afford a private chauffer to bring her kids to school.

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