Tags: saudi | women | vote

Saudi women vote

By    |   Monday, 24 Aug 2015 10:36 AM

Saudi Arabian women began registering to vote for the first time in the country's history on Sunday, but many international critics say other restrictions on women's rights will continue to impede their ability to actually cast a ballot.

Jamal Al-Saadi in Medina and Safinaz Abu Al-Shamat in Mecca were the first two women to register in their respective cities, and 10 more soon joined them, PRI reported via MSN News.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud decreed in 2011 that women would be able to both vote and run for office in the next election, which is slated for December 12 of this year. Since then, 70 women have expressed interest in running, and more than 80 have registered as campaign managers.

A spokesperson for Amnesty International provided context for the small step forward in women's rights, saying "Let’s not forget that Saudi Arabian women won’t actually be able to drive themselves to the voting booths as they’re still completely banned from driving."

Once voting begins, women — who are still not allowed in the same public spaces as men — will vote at their own polling centers. In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive a car, and cannot get a job, education, marriage, or travel without a man's permission. They must be accompanied to male doctors by a male guardian.

CNN wrote that across the country, voting is mostly meaningless, as the king retains all decision-making power.

In Saudi Arabia, "Political decision-making revolves around the King, who appoints his own cabinet and then ratifies the legislation that the body passes. Decision-making bodies like the Majlis al-Shura, the king-appointed 150-member consultative council, act in a consultative capacity," explained columnist Vanessa Tucker.

"Local municipal elections were introduced in 2005," she continues. "Half of the seats on these councils are determined by vote, and the other half by royal appointment. The votes that women will now have, then, are good for half of the seats for a largely advisory group in a system completely dominated by the palace."

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Saudi Arabian women began registering to vote for the first time in the country's history on Sunday, but many international critics say other restrictions on women's rights will continue to impede their ability to actually cast a ballot.
saudi, women, vote
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2015-36-24
Monday, 24 Aug 2015 10:36 AM
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