Saudi Arabian women gain right to vote, run in elections

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has announced women will be allowed to vote in the country and run for municipal elections there. The modifications will apply from 2012.
Abdullah made this announcement at the start of a new Shura Council term. In a speech, the king said “we refuse to marginalise women in society in all roles that comply with sharia” and so made the decision “to involve women in the Shura Council as members, starting from next term”.

Abdullah clarified that female adults “will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote.” Such changes are to be put in place “according to Islamic principles,” he said. Muslim women, he continued, “must not be marginalised in opinion or advice”. Activists have sought women’s right to vote in Saudi Arabia for years. As it stands, women in Saudi Arabia cannot drive, nor travel without male permission, based on Sunni Islam principles.

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