Election Universe

Women participated in Saudi Arabia elections for the first time

Women participated in Saudi Arabia elections for the first time
December 18 2015, 14:21

For the first time since 2005 when municipal council elections were carried out in Saudi Arabia, women were able to participate as both voters and candidates.

In this election there were 5,938 male candidates and 978 women running for half of the seats in a municipal council of 2,100 posts.

Although only 20 women won seats (1% of the available seats), some analysts have speculated that the King, who appoints the other half of the council directly, will use his power to ensure a greater female representation.

Women from all regions of Saudi Arabia participated in the election, including conservative places like the city of Riyadh where four women were elected for office. Female candidates were also elected in places like the city of Mecca and Medina.

It is estimated that 130,000 women were registered to vote and at least 106,000 showed up for the polls. 1.35 million men were enrolled but only 600,000 participated. In total, turnout was around 47%. The municipal council elections are the only elected offices in Saudi Arabia.

Campaigning was severely restricted. Women running for office could not speak directly to men who are not related to them. To communicate their proposals, they could only address women or talk to men behind a partition. In cases, a man needed to read their speeches. Online platforms such as social media proved efficient for women to get their messages across.

Although these elections are considered historic and a definite step forward for women’s rights in the Middle East, women in Saudi Arabia still face some complications such as not being able to drive or needing a male guardian for some of their decisions.





Image by Glady via https://pixabay.com/en/users/GLady-768/