RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to vote in nationwide municipal elections and run for office Saturday for the first time in the country’s history.
While the powers of the local councils are severely limited due to the country’s absolute monarchy, many Saudi women see the move as a turning point in history. About 130,000 women registered to vote, compared to 1.36 million men, both representing a fraction of the seven million eligible voters countrywide.
A total of 978 women registered as candidates, running against 5,938 men, both competing for 2,100 elected seats in Saudi Arabia’s local councils. Results will be posted Sunday.
“I have goosebumps,” said Ghada Ghazzawi, a businesswoman, as she entered a polling station in the coastal city of Jeddah. “We have been waiting for this day for a long time.”
Women continue to be prohibited from driving, including to the voting polls, and must wear head-to-toe coverings in public. They must also be accompanied by a male chaparone known as a mahram when they leave their homes.