Saudi Arabia: First women councillors elected - BBC News
Women are elected to municipal councils in Saudi Arabia for the first time after a ban on women taking part in elections was lifted.

According to Sebastian Usher from BBC News: “They’re still just a drop in the ocean compared to the number of men who’d been elected, but it’s offered a boost to many Saudi women who’d been using social media and other outlets to push for a more visible and active role in their society.”

Saudi Arabia has taken steps in the right direction in order to help bolster female involvement in their political process.  Four women have been elected to municipal council in the recent election where women were finally permitted to vote.  On top of that, 130,000 women registered to vote for this voting season!  They may not have yet come close to the 1.35 million men who are registered, but they constitute a voting demographic that did not exist up until four years ago when they were granted the right to vote for this voting season by King Abdulluh.  The women elected to municipal councils now have the ability to have their voice heard and respected regarding issues such as the following listed on the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia’s website:

  • Human rights
  • Education
  • Culture
  • Information
  • Health and social affairs
  • Services and public utilities
  • Foreign affairs
  • Security
  • Administration
  • Islamic affairs 
  • Economy and industry
  • Finance

Salma Al Rashed says, “Change is a big word.  But the election is the way to make sure we are represented.”  I believe that positive change will happen as a result of women like Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi being elected.  On the surface, this milestone seems like a small start, but I believe it will make a big difference in the short and long term because more and more women will be encouraged to sign up to vote and run for councils after seeing the successes of the women who did win in this season’s elections.  I look forward to reading more about Saudi Arabia’s progress towards being more representative of the almost-half of their population that is female!