Great strides making equal rights for Saudi Arabian women

28/12/2015

 The day of December 12, 2015 was a milestone in history of Saudi Arabia when women of this country have been eligible for election and vote for the first time. The election has sent a strong signal to Saudi Arabia society that women are continuing the “long march” to participate more in community life.
In the December 12 morning, Ms. Amal Badreldinal-Sawari, a 60-year-old pediatrician stepped up to region of elections in the city of Mecca. Being one of 979 women participated in the election in the local council this time, Ms. Sawari was inevitable to feel fear and happy because of the first time in her life to do literally citizenship. However she felt fearing to suffer criticism if getting failure.
Ms. Aljazi al-Hossaini, 57 years old, has decided to join the election to the local council. To prepare for this major reform, she has focused on 12 day campaign on the internet. She launched manifesto on her website, where both men and women can read that “I am trying to do the best within my ability and I am proud to do it myself”.
For the 979 women participating as candidates as well as over 130,000 women enrolled to vote, this election was a great achievement, where they felt they were a part of society and they could contribute construction. Two young voters Reem Assad and Amal Faisal shared on Twitter: “The voting has just been finished! This is the first time I have gone to vote as an adult. You may find it funny but to me, it is the beginning”...
According to results of vote counting, there were 20 Saudi Arabian women were elected to positions in local council. Among them, Ms. Salma Bint al-Oteibi Hizab won a seat on the Mdraca Council, an area in the city of Mecca ca while Ms. Hanouf bin al-Hazimi won a seat in the city of Angiofil. For the winner, the presence of women in local councils means that they have access to some of the issues that were previously impossible, at the same time opens up new opportunities for Saudi Arabian women in the coming years.
The local council is the government agency where citizens can choose their representatives. This was the third election, the first in 2005 and second in 2011, but only men could join. Unlike the two previous elections, this election was concerned by the whole world and closely monitored because this is the first time women could vote and stand for election.
This event is considered as “an important step” because by far, women are subject to multiple binding. According to Sharia law, Saudi Arabian women must have a guardian (father or husband), they have to cover head and wear headscarves traditional garb when going out...
In September 2011, the Sultan of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz allowed women to vote and the right to participate as a candidate in local elections. Sultan also declared, representatives for women will be allowed to vote as members of the Shura Council (the senior council). Under the reign of the Sultan Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia has gradually created conditions for women to have a greater role in society such as going to college and encouraging women come to offices. Currently, number of women in the workforce in Saudi Arabia has risen considerably, from 23,000 people in 2004 to over 400,000 by 2015.
However, the election is not expected to have a major impact on society, which is consider very conservative with the provisions of gender-based discrimination. Women are involved in the election but they are still distinguished in performing their civil rights. “According to the rules of sexism, men and women will vote in separate polling stations. Female candidates are not allowed directly contact with male voters, election program presentation is through male supporters and relatives”, Britain's Guardian newspaper said.

But the one thing which can not be denied that the election was a turning point for women in the Arab countries. "Many people do not have faith in the female local councilor, but their presence will create new colors and reduce corruption. Give them time to act and make a positive impact in society”, the journalist Jeddah Samar Fatany said.
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All comments [ 10 ]


Deck Hero14 29/12/15 14:44

The recently published UN report on the status of women worldwide noted the progress — mainly in the legal field — achieved in many Arab countries to eliminate the injustices inflicted on women.

Pack Cassiopian 29/12/15 14:45

In most countries in the region, women are restricted from working the same hours or taking up the same jobs as men, thus limiting job opportunities for them.

Only Solidar 29/12/15 14:46

Women make up an overwhelming majority of domestic workers, jobs that often lack basic employment rights.

MaskOf Zero 29/12/15 14:47

While overall representation by women in the region's parliaments remain low, averaging 10 per cent, some countries have made very large gains.

Love Peace 29/12/15 14:49

In 2012 two Saudi women took part in the Olympics for the first time, weathering a torrent of abuse. Since last year the authorities have been giving licences to private sports clubs for women

John Smith 29/12/15 14:49

Slowly the tide in Saudi Arabia appears to be running in women’s favour.

Gentle Moon 29/12/15 14:50

The Saudi woman’s voice has always been there calling for change

LawrenceSamuels 29/12/15 14:51

Last year 30 women took their seats in the Shura Council, a consultative body of 150 members, also appointed by the king.

Jane smartnic 29/12/15 14:52

women are due for the first time to vote and stand in municipal elections—the only ones permitted in the kingdom—albeit that only half the seats are elected and that the councils are pretty toothless.

yobro yobro 29/12/15 14:53

Women are speaking up, too.

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