A very very very small step forward for women in Saudi Arabia

USA Today reports:

Hundreds of Saudi Arabian women ran for local public office and thousands cast ballots for the first time in an historic election Saturday in the ultra-conservative Islamic nation where women are still prohibited from driving cars.

“I have goosebumps,” businesswoman Ghada Ghazzawi told The Wall Street Journal as she entered a polling station in the city of Jeddah. “We have been waiting for this day for a long time.”

The numbers of women participating in the municipal election process paled by comparison with men and doubts ran high that any woman would be elected in the results expected Sunday. But those who participated saw it as an important first step. The only elections held under the monarchy are for local councils that approve budgets and provide oversight of urban development.

The election Saturday was only the third round of voting in the country since 2005 and only men were previously allowed to participate. More than 6,000 men and around 980 women are running as candidates for the local council seats. Some 2,100 elected seats are being contested and out of 6,900 candidates,only about 980 women.

It is good that finally women can vote and even stand in some (not all) elections in Saudi Arabia. But such a long way to go to just be treated as equal human beings:

Saturday, the women cast ballots in polling stations separate from those for men, and women had to be driven to the sites.

Can’t drive, and separate polling stations.

Campaigning was difficult for female candidates who were required to address voters from behind partitions during appearances or have a man speak on their behalf, according to the BBC

And can’t be seen or sometimes even speak!

The new voting freedom was a departure in a country where women must obtain permission from male relatives to marry, attend higher education or travel abroad.  

A form of slavery.

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