Saudi Arabia sees first female voter registrations

By Drum Digital
25 August 2015

Not only will women be able to vote, but they can also stand for election.

“I was quite ready for this day,” said Jamal Al-Saadi, one the two women believed to have been the first females in Saudi Arabian history to register to vote for the upcoming third municipal elections in Madinah and Makkah respectively.

“I have prepared all the documents needed to obtain a voter's card. This is a nice experience to go through. We are just at the beginning of the road”, said Saadi.

The Saudi Gazette reported that voter registration began in the Two Holy Cities on Sunday.

The women said that female participation in the elections was a dream for them and it will enable “Saudi women to have a say in the process of the decision-making.”

“I was the first woman to arrive at the center,” Safinaz Abu Al-Shamat said. “I was the first to register and the first to obtain a voter's card in Makkah.” She added that is was a national duty for women to participate in the elections.

It was also reported that the youngest woman to register was Aliyah Al-Diais, who just turned 18.

Adam Coogle, of Human Rights Watch, said: ‘While it’s a sign of progress, allowing women to stand and vote in elections – and then only municipal elections – is not enough to secure women’s full integration into Saudi public life.

According to a report by BuzzFeed, the country ranked 130 out of 146 countries in a U.N. report last year for global gender equality. “Saudi women are still unable to open a bank account or get a passport on their own, and many are unable to travel without a male companion”, the report said.

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