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  • She Says

Saudi Women Can Vote For the First Time Ever, But What Is Stopping Them?

  • IWB Post
  •  September 3, 2015


Saudi Arabia has made a big declaration in terms of women’s rights recently. The women there are now free to cast their votes; however, there is a problem.
Local reporting indicates that only 16 women have registered to vote in three governorates. Blame the logistics services and lack of awareness. To be apart of the elections as a voter or a candidate, one needs to have a photo ID and proof of residency, but most Saudi women can’t provide either of these.

In fact, legal housing documents are, in most of the cases, never in the woman’s name. Moreover, they are not permitted to obtain a driver’s license. Saudi women can only theoretically obtain personal ID cards which isn’t possible without the approval of men.

Sad but true.

The late King Abdullah announced four years ago that women would be allowed to vote and run in the municipal elections. However, the negligent response towards this significant growth is quite demotivating.

Adam Coogle, a Saudi Arabia researcher for Human Rights Watch, said, “I think the step that was taken to allow women to vote was symbolically important. From piecemeal evidence it appears that the response is underwhelming, but I don’t think we have a clear idea of what has gone on nationwide.”

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