[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
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
join our mailing list