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Priya Motiani

IWB Blogger

Saudi Women Voted And Elected For The First Time Ever!

  • IWB Post
  •  December 15, 2015


Saudi Arabia has had a historic moment recently when 20 of its women got elected for the local government seats.

This has happened for the first time ever that women in the country have voted and contested in elections. Even though the elected female candidates amount only to one percent of roughly 2100 municipal seats, the fact is a great deal in itself!


Well, in a nation where women have guardianship laws governing them, where women are not allowed to drive, and where they were never included in the electoral process, this little step…doesn’t it come like a giant leap of empowerment?

I believe this to be a sun-shining-bright-on-one’s-head kind of a moment for the Saudi Arabian women! And it is so heart-warming to hear things like:

“I walked in and said ‘I’ve never seen this before. Only in the movies!’ It was a thrilling experience.”

These were the words of Sahar Hassan Nasief, a woman hailing from Jiddah, when she saw the ballot box and cast her vote. Three generations of women in her family voted in the elections for the first time.

The female population of the country is overwhelmed with joy and excitement! So much so, that they are photographing themselves while casting their vote and are posting the clicks on social media.

Oh, now that I’ve mentioned social media, allow me to also tell you that most of the campaigning for elections done by the female candidates happened on Facebook, Snapchat, and similar portals. This was clearly owing to the strict gender segregation rules that prevail in the country… meaning, that men and women are prohibited from mixing in public.

All this is nice and happy, but it gets soiled when we consider the reaction of the males. Here’s one instance:

Abdullah al-Maiteb, standing outside a male voting station in the capital Riyadh said “Her role is not in such places. Her role is at home managing the house and raising a new generation. If we allow her out of the house to do such business, who is going to take care of my sons?”

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