The first election in which women were allowed to vote and they went and elected themselves a female councillor. Thank you, ladies, for creating history.
Meet Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi. She was elected to the council of Madrakah, a region in the holy city of Mecca, the electoral commission said. She was running against seven men and two women, BBC reported .
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women, including a ban on driving. That a Saudi woman has won a seat on Mecca’s municipal council in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia is surprising enough. Add to that the fact that it was the first-ever elections open to female voters and candidates, and you have yourself a victory worth writing home about.
Officials said about 130,000 women had registered to vote in Saturday’s poll, compared with 1.35 million men. Among the 6,440 candidates were more than 900 women, who overcame a number of obstacles to participate in the landmark poll. Female candidates could not directly meet any male voters during their campaigns.
Just to put things into perspective, elections of any kind are rare in the Saudi kingdom – Saturday was only the third time in history that Saudis had gone to the polls.
“As a first step it is a great achievement. Now we feel we are part of society, that we contribute,” said Sara Ahmed, 30, a physiotherapist entering a polling station in north Riyadh told Reuters. “We talk a lot about it, it’s a historic day for us.”
Excellent landmark, but women in Saudi Arabia have a long way to go yet.