Women To Vote, Join Saudi Bicameral Parliament
The decision to invite women into the parliament and to vote was delivered after careful reflection of women's roles in the society King Abdullah said addressing the Saudi Advisory body.
From Arab News:
"Because we refuse to marginalize women in society in all roles that comply with Shariah, we have decided, after deliberation with our senior ulema and others to involve women in the Shoura Council as members, starting from the next term," King Abdullah said.
"Secondly women have the right to run for municipal council membership. They also have the right to vote within Shariah regulations. Brothers and sisters, it is your right that we enable to achieve everything that guarantees your honor, dignity and interest," he added.
This marks a significant step forward in the country, which traditionally has followed strict Islamic laws enforcing segregation of the sexes.
The king did not address the issue of women being allowed to drive. Although there is no written law against women driving, they are not issued licenses, effectively banning the practice.
Women in Saudi Arabia must also have written approval from a male guardian -- a father, husband, brother or son -- to leave the country, work or even undergo certain medical operations.
Advocates for women's rights in Saudi Arabia say this these actions show progress in the country but there is still much more to be accomplished.
From Arab News:
“I believe this is a step to involve women in the public sphere. It is the top of the pyramid and a step in the direction for more decisions regarding women,” said Naila Attar, who organized a campaign Baladi calling for women’s involvement in the municipal council elections.
The next municipal elections will be on Thursday but women will not be able to participate until 2015 USA Today reports.
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