Friday 21 June 2024

In a first, five women elected to Saudi councils

RIYADH, December 13, 2015

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that at least five women had been elected to public office in the kingdom after winning seats on municipal councils in Saturday's election.

The five women hail from vastly different parts of the country, ranging from Saudi Arabia's second largest and most cosmopolitan city to a small village near Islam's holiest sites.

The preliminary results were announced by local districts and published on the official Saudi Press Agency in which two of the winners were named.

Salma bint Hazab Al Otaibi won a seat in the Madrika district of Makkah, while Hanouf bint Mufreh bin Ayad Al Hazimi won a seat in Al Jawf, in northern Saudi Arabia.

The election was the first in which women could vote and run as candidates, a landmark step in a country where women are barred from driving and are legally dependent on a male relative to approve almost all their major life decisions.

However, the election was for only two thirds of seats in municipal councils that have no lawmaking or national powers, and follows men-only polls in 2005 and 2011.

Results from Northern Borders Province, the southwestern province of Asir and the Eastern Province district of Al Ahsa, the only others to have been announced, had no successful women candidates.

Under King Abdullah, who died in January and who announced in 2011 that women would be able to vote in this election, steps were taken for women to have a bigger public role, sending more of them to university and encouraging female employment.-Reuters

Tags: Saudi | Election | Women |

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