Saudi Women to Vote First Time

Saudi Women to Vote First TimeSaudi Women to Vote First Time

In a historic new policy, women in Saudi Arabia will be able to vote and run for office in the kingdom’s municipal elections for the first time.

Voter registration that lasts for 21 days for the December 12 polls began on Saturday but started a week earlier in Mecca and Medina, in what officials describe as a “significant milestone in progress towards a participation-based society”.

Candidate registration will start on August 30 in all regions except in the two holy cities, where the process began on August 23, reports PTI.

Last Sunday, Safinaz Abu al-Shamat and Jamal al-Saadi became the first Saudi women to register for voting.

Shamat described it as a national duty for women to participate in the elections.

“There are 1,263 election centers in all regions and provinces - 839 of the centers are for men, 424 for women,” Saudi Gazette quoted a source from the ministry of municipal and rural affairs as saying.

The December election will be the first opportunity for women to vote since a 2011 order by the late King Abdullah that is aimed at granting women some political participation.

Neither male nor female candidates will be allowed to use their pictures in the campaign and there will be separate polling centers for men and women.

 Women’s rights activists had long demanded the right to vote in the oil-rich Persian Gulf nation.