At least 18 women have won seats in Saudi Arabia’s municipal polls, the country’s first-ever elections open to female voters and candidates, reports aljazeera.com.
The women who won hail from vastly different parts of the country, ranging from Saudi Arabia’s largest city to a small village near Islam’s holiest site.
Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi was elected to the council of Madrakah, a region in Mecca, the official SPA news agency reported, citing election commission president Osama al-Bar.
Saturday’s municipal poll, which was hailed by many as historic, saw a turnout of about 47 percent, according to Saudi officials.
Women are banned from driving and must cover themselves in public in the conservative kingdom, which was the world’s last country to give its women the right to vote.
More than 900 women ran for seats. They were up against nearly 6,000 men competing for places on 284 councils whose powers are restricted to local affairs including responsibility for streets, public gardens and rubbish collection.
“I am happy for having voted for the first time in my life,” a woman, who declined to give her name, told the DPA news agency after leaving a polling station in the capital Riyadh.
Another female voter, Najla Harir, said: “I exercised my electoral right. We are optimistic about a bright future for women in our homeland.”
Hatoon al-Fassi, a Saudi womens’ rights activist and writer, said in a tweet: “This is a new day. The day of the Saudi woman.”
FEMEN welcomes the efforts of Saudi Arabia government on its way to improvement of women’s rights in the country. Still, there’re a lot of issues to be solved in this field and we shouldn’t stop until a woman faces no discrimination of any of her rights.