[QODLink]
Middle East
Saudi women given voting rights
King Abdullah says women will be allowed to run as candidates in municipal polls and will even have a right to vote.
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2011 13:03

Saudi women will have the right to join the advisory Shura Council (consultative assembly) as full members and participate in future municipal elections, King Abdullah has said.

The announcement came days before municipal elections where women will be excluded.

"Because we refuse to marginalise women in society in all roles that comply with sharia, we have decided, after deliberation with our senior ulama [clerics] and others ... to involve women in the Shura Council as members, starting from the next term," Abdullah said on Sunday in a speech delivered to the Shura Council.

"Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote," Abdullah said.

Restrictions

The decision means women will take part in the elections to be held in four years. Nominations for municipal polls on Thursday are already in.

Women in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom are not allowed to drive.

Activists in the country have long called for greater rights for women, who are barred from travelling, working or having medical operations without the permission of a male relative.

More than 5,000 men will compete in Thursday's municipal elections, only the second in Saudi Arabia's history, to fill half the seats in the kingdom's 285 municipal councils. The other half are appointed by the government.

The first elections were held in 2005, but the government extended the existing councils' term for two more years.

More than 60 Saudi intellectuals and activists have called for a boycott of the ballot for excluding women.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lacking cohesive local ground forces to attack in tandem, coalition air strikes will have limited effect, experts say.
Hindu right-wing groups run campaign against what they say is Muslim conspiracy to convert Hindu girls into Islam.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
Muslim caretakers maintain three synagogues in eastern Indian city, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community.
Amid fresh ISIL gains, officials in Anbar province have urged the Iraqi government to request foreign ground troops.