Newsday Tuesday: Saudi Women Voted for the First Time

By Global Moms Challenge

December 15, 2015

The history of women having the right to vote is a long and complex one. Many of us mistakenly think it’s a battle that has been won. After all, American women have had the right to vote since 1920, and even earlier in many states. That makes it all the more profound that just last Saturday, women in Saudi Arabia were able to vote in municipal elections for the first time. Women were also allowed to run for office for the first time in the nation’s history.

CNN reports on this historic time for the country and explains that in Saudi Arabia, half of the political positions needing to be filled are determined by voters, while the other half are selected by the King. Allowing women to vote there was first proposed by Saudi officials in 2005.

Many of the women recorded the occasion on their phones. Activist Ghada Ghazzawi makes a video thanking the late King Abdullah for the reforms allowing women to vote. Getty | BBC

Many of the women recorded the occasion on their phones. Activist Ghada Ghazzawi makes a video thanking the late King Abdullah for the reforms allowing women to vote. Getty | BBC

Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch, said, “Saudi women have faced significant obstacles in their fight for their right to vote and run in the municipal council elections, but their participation on December 12 [sends] a strong signal to Saudi society that women are continuing the long march toward greater participation in public life.”

The move for women to vote looks toward equality in a male-dominated kingdom. Though women are still required to cover their heads and may not drive, the number of women in the Saudi workforce has been increasing.

979 women candidates ran for local office Saturday, as did 5,938 men; 130,637 women registered to vote as compared to the 1.3 million men who did so.


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Read more in the article from CNN, and be sure to look at the powerful photos in this photo essay from the BBC.

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