Project Wonderful

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saudi Women Will Vote in Local Elections

Grad school is kicking my butt, but I am too excited about this not to share. Saudi King Abdullah announced Sunday that the nation's women will gain the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections to be held in 2015.
Saudi women have been capitalizing on the air of reform in the region by organizing protests against the ban on female drivers and other inequitable Saudi laws.

Critics rightfully point out that women are still not allowed to drive in the kingdom and that the advancement won't take effect until 2015, but I still believe that King Abdullah deserves praise. Saudi Arabia is in an interesting situation in that the ruling family is considerably more liberal than the highly politically and economically influential ulema (the body of Islamic religious leaders and jurists). King Abdullah made it clear that he consulted with these leaders, however ultimately the decision was his and arrived at in part because of a social networking campaign led by female activists. Times they are a changin'.

Is it a small step? Yes. But it's a step forward.

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