Saudi women cast first-ever ballots

Saudi Arabia held landmark municipal elections in which women vote, stand as candidate for first time in history

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A woman leaves a polling station after casting her vote during municipal elections, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 12, 2015

Updated Dec 13, 2015

Saudis have casted their votes in country’s municipal election on Saturday in which Saudi women are allowed to vote and stand as candidates for the first time in country's history.

"We talk a lot about it, it's a historic day for us." said Sara Ahmed, a physiotherapist entering a polling station in north Riyadh.

According to official figures, at least 130,000 women have registered to vote in comparison to 1.35 million men.

Besides, 978 female candidates are running for 2,100 seats in 284 local municipal councils, while there are more than 5,000 male candidates.

Saudi Arabia, a conservative kingdom where women are not allowed to drive and need to be accompanied by a male guardian, has became the last country to give women the right to elect and to be elected.

“It is true that this vote is symbolic, but it would help women to be involved in the decision making which affects the other half of a forgotten society. Therefore any future laws will be better shaped and accepted by both men and women,” Maha Kattan one of the female candidates told TRTWorld.

“I am sure that the next generation will be the generation of change. It will be totally different. Women will stand shoulder to shoulder with men,” she said.

“Gender equality is not the goal, social justice is.”

It will be the first time that women are allowed to vote and contest polls in Saudi Arabia.[AFP]

Saturday’s election marks a symbolic step toward greater civil rights for women, but expectations still remain low, as Norah Alsowayan Baladi, an activist from Women Support Group, stated the society does not think that any woman would participate in the municipality council at the end of the elections.

However she added, “I don't think that there is a woman who will win, but i think this is very important.”

TRTWorld and agencies