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20 Women Were Elected In Saudi Arabia As Women Voted For The First Time

Last Saturday in Saudi Arabia, twenty women were elected to public office in a landmark election.


History has been made! Last Saturday in Saudi Arabia, twenty women were elected to public office in a landmark election.

This was the first time women were allowed to vote, as well as the first time they were allowed to run for local municipal council seats. In total, 131,000 registered females showed up at the polling place to participate (in contrast to 1.4 million men).

Because Saudi women are still not allowed to drive, the female voters had to either rely on men to drive them to the polls or Uber. The transportation app offered a free ride to any ladies who needed to cast their votes on the big day.

Reports The New York Times, Riyadh, the conservative capital of Saudi Arabia, saw the most women candidates win, with four elected. The Eastern Province, where minority Shiites are concentrated, saw two women elected, and a small town where the Prophet Muhammad’s first mosque was built also elected a woman.

Credit: Business Insider

Credit: Business Insider

Of course, as TIME reports, women in Saudi Arabia haven’t really won – yet. There’s still a lot of progress to be made in the country, but small change is worth celebrating.

“This is a symbolic victory for women as these roles don’t come with much power,” said Joana Cook, a Middle East political analyst and the editor in chief of Strife, a journal on conflict at Department of War Studies at Kings College, London. “But absolutely it’s a stepping stone.”

Political reform began in 2011 when King Abdullah granted women the rights to hold office and participate in local elections. Years before, he also encouraged their pursuit of higher education and employment.

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