Women in Saudi Arabia have begun registering to vote in municipal elections, the first time they are able to take part in the electoral process in the kingdom.
Women will also be able to stand as candidates in the December polls, with a third of the 1,263 voting centres being set aside for female voters, according to the Saudi Gazette.
Afnan Linjawi, a Saudi writer, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the ongoing voter registration and the planned vote usher in a new and “exciting time” for women, as they participate in local governance.
“I didn’t expect this to happen so soon,” said Linjawi, who is also a first-time voter. She credited local female leaders for pushing the initiative, as well as the newly named King Salman for approving it.
Linjawi said, that while some sectors of Saudi society view women’s suffrage as a “Western intrusion”, she sees a “linear advancement in women’s participation” in the country’s affairs and politics.
“I guess with any change that happens, you have to face opposition.”
On Monday, two women from Mecca and Medina became the first female voters to register.
However, in a statement sent to Al Jazeera, Amnesty International called Saudi’s decision “long overdue”, and added that it is only a fraction of what needs to be addressed over gender equality in the country.
“Let’s not forget that Saudi Arabian women won’t actually be able to drive themselves to the voting booths as they’re still completely banned from driving.”
The statement also pointed out that women in Saudi are still unable to travel, work, study or marry without permission of a male guardian.
- Give thanks that women are now able to vote in Saudi Elections.
- Pray for Saudi women, as many still live very oppressed lives. Pray that they will see their worth through God’s eyes, and come to know the freedom of life through Jesus.
- Pray for the spread of the Gospel in Saudi Arabia, through radio, satellite TV programmes and the quiet witness of Saudi and expat Christians.
Genesis 1 vs 27: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”