Saudi Arabia: King Abdullah Gives Women the Right to Vote

 

On Sunday, 25 September, King Abdullah announced that women will be allowed to stand for election and be able to vote.  This is a significant step towards allowing more rights and opportunities for women in the conservative Kingdom.  King Abdullah has demonstrated he is willing to stand up to conservative clerics who seek to marginalize the rights and role of women in Saudi Arabia.

Changes in regards to women come slowly in the Kingdom due to the large resistance from clerics and many male members of Saudi society.  King Abdullah has been a reformer since he came into power.  He has opened up more opportunities for women to join the workforce.  In time, women will likely be given the right to drive.  (American Bedu opinion)

In closing this post, I have a question.  Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal elections.  Which women would YOU like to see as a candidate and why?

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57 Responses

  1. Great…now the women can complain their vote means nothing just like the men. Equality for all at last.

  2. Now that we heard from Coolred, all we need now is for Mr. Alyami to come and tell us what a terrible move this is for Saudi Arabia and how it will bring back the country 10 steps backward…!!!!!

  3. Yesterday was a great day for Saudi women. Mabrook to you all 🙂

  4. I’m happy and I hope insha Allah soon women will have the righ to drive car also. Saudi Arabia is in great evolution for women rights. I hope to see in y municipality a woman who will protect the rights of women and will improve social services for women in my municipality.

  5. a great deal!!
    The change of wind has started to flow over Saudi Arabia.
    yup, women will be allowed to drive. And it will be very soon. As the King is very conscious about women empowerment.
    🙂

  6. We’re proud to be in Saudi.

  7. The king is 92, Since there is nothing written and no codified rule of law, what happens should he die before 2015? Will women still get to vote? Not likely.

  8. Anonymous Saudi..plz tell me how my statement is wrong? Does the Saudi man’s vote mean anything? How can it when you have a dictator/king ruling the country along with his “royal” family. Nothing happens unless he and his family want it too. Voting means nothing. Just like in Bahrain and any other country with a dictator/royal family. It’s all smoke and mirrors…a placebo to make the oppressed populace feel they have a say in their lives. If that were true…than the king would be the first position open for a vote.

  9. Women Can Vote in Saudi Arabia – So What?

    Offering Saudi women the right to vote in a country that doesn’t offer its citizens even the semblance of any real choice in the voting is a hollow victory at best. How excited would you have been if you had heard that some previously disenfranchised group had finally been awarded the right to vote in Stalin’s Russia?

  10. For all it’s faults and the fact that you cannot vote in the govt, I think it’s a big step inthe right direction. Now it’s upto the women in saudi to come out and vote in large numbers, Municipal elections should mean, lots of women stand for election and the women population who can vote should vote them in,
    Even if it doesn’t mean anythng it will show those in power that women want the right to be treated equally, I hope , wish, pray that women will come out in droves and take this oppurtunity the king has givent hem and use it to send a messge and also better their areasin the municipal election. no complaining about voting anymore, youa re as equal as the men 🙂

  11. This means nothing and I have nothing good to say about King Abdullah if THIS is also what is happening. May Allah grant us justice.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15079620

  12. That is very sad, Sandy.
    I was initially excited about the vote but after reading Susie of Arabia’s blog post on the subject I am in agreement with Harry.

  13. @Wendy,
    While getting the vote does not have near as much meaning in KSA as it might in other places it is still a positive step. A population being ready for democracy is not necessarily a “natural” occurance as we seen when we swoop in and “democratize” them. It doesn’t work that way. These elections- though nearly meaningless in terms of actual self-determination are still a step towards political maturity. The concepts that we take for granted of voting and electing a leader etc. are learned ones- not innate. So it is good if the population has some concept of how it works- and that women are equal participants for the day when the elections mean more.

    That said I am EXTREMELY disheartened by what has just happened here. It is absolutely barbaric and I hope the Saudi government is thoroughly shamed by it’s people and in the international community. I don’t know how any of them can hold their heads up if there is any decency in them at all.

  14. Do you think that the women in this picture are Saudi? Aren’t they pretty loose with the hair for a Saudi woman?

  15. Yes. I see women like that all the time.

  16. Is that in the liberal Jeddah or everywhere?

  17. And the religious police don’t chase them down and tell them to fix their hijab? What would be the percentage of Saudi women that you would see out showing that much hair and all that face? 🙂

  18. Pardon me if I am underwhelmed ….

    Women will be able to vote in Saudi Arabia, but presumably they will have to walk to the polls, since they still aren’t allowed to drive. And once they get there, with blistered feet from the long walk and suffering from heatstroke from having to walk while fully veiled under the desert sun, they will face a choice of candidates that is about as broad and diverse as a choice between Charlie Rangel or Cynthia McKinney here in the US.

    Some of the perennially starry-eyed may think that King Abdullah, in announcing this great breakthrough on Sunday, was paving the way for further advances in Saudi women’s rights. Who knows?

    Maybe King Abdullah’s generous decree is a harbinger of more good things to come for Saudi women, who have made so many “significant contributions” to Saudi society, by having many Saudi babies, and cooking many Saudi meals, and cleaning many Saudi floors. Maybe this is just the beginning. Maybe in another year, the Saudis will let women leave the house without being chaperoned by a male guardian.

    Maybe in two years the testimony of Saudi women will no longer be valued as only half that of a man. Maybe in three years women will be able to inherit a share equal to that of men if the person writing the will so desires. Maybe in four years women will be able to have some recourse when they are beaten. Maybe in five they’ll be able to protest when they’re used as commodities in business deals, given in arranged marriages the way others trade horses or cows. Maybe in six they’ll be able to speak out against the dehumanization of polygamy, and in seven years, who knows? Maybe pre-pubescent girls will be able to reject being married off to men decades older than they are.

    But these further advances are, in fact, unlikely. For unlike the restriction on voting, these other limitations on the lives of women in the Kingdom of the Two Holy Places are rooted directly in Islamic law, and thus are not likely to be revised or discarded by a regime that is not only explicitly and self-consciously based upon Islamic law, but is beset by hardliners who believe that it is nonetheless still not Islamic enough.

    Al-Qaeda and other Islamic jihadists deride the Saudi royals as hypocrites already; imagine their fury if those royals started letting Saudi women be loosened, even just the tiniest bit, from their gilded shackles.

  19. In my opinion the wearing of hijab is not a problem and I respect that. Myself, I wear hijab! The biggest problemin Saudi Arabia is the ban of driving women. Saudi Arabia is the only one country in the islamic world who ban women to drive.

  20. dana islam…the biggest problem in saudi is that the men in control of that country use religion to keep half the population from living a full and complete life….the life they themselves feel entitled too. The ban on driving barely compares to using god as an excuse to abuse the females of your country.

  21. I think the ban on driving is one of the most visible and all-encompassing examples of what is wrong- which is why there is such a battle over it. Obviously the whole guardian/mehram issue is at the heart of things- but driving is the most visible example. Once that loosens the war won’t be over but the tide will turn.

    Hijab isn’t the biggest problem except it’s forced on people. I have no respect for the compulsion in the matter. But I am unashamedly a secularist.

  22. Sandy…I believe hijab is the root of all evil when it comes to Saudi and its religious/cultural laws. If there wasnt this insane belief that god mandates women be covered and segregated…then such things as driving a car wouldnt even be questioned as a right they should or shouldnt have. And women covered in black while men are essentially covered in white or anything else they want is the most visible sign in that country that there is a problem…not driving. IMO

  23. @Coolred – ‘I believe hijab is the root of all evil’

    Agree 100%!!!! But there are sooooo many that just don’t get it or don’t ‘want’ to get it.

    And Sandy, it IS forced on people. Those who wear it religiously do not think they have a choice. If they think that it is ordered by ‘God’ there is no ‘choice’. Even if they wear it happily they were manipulated by fear (although they may call it ‘love’).

  24. @Lynn, you could say that about ANY behavior of ANY believer of ANY religion. Hijab in that regard is the same as following any other religious directive.

    @Coolred, I don’t completely agree with you. I see hijab and segregation as two different things. Theoretcially wearing hijab should make mixing a non-issue. I mean the point of covering IS to go out.

    That said I think Hijab is one of the biggest falsehoods that has been put together and slapped with the Islam label. Personally I don’t cover my head anymore and I haven’t for years.

    To me the main thing is still the legal status of a woman as “deficient” and in need of an owner. From this all the other most dangerous BS comes forth.

  25. @Sandy – ‘you could say that about ANY behavior of ANY believer of ANY religion’

    YEP! What’s your point? lol

    ‘I see hijab and segregation as two different things’

    But really they are not. One is ‘supporting’ the other. Hijab allows the segregation mentality to continue. You said it yourself ‘I mean the point of covering IS to go out’ The covering is a symbolic barrier between the woman and the world.

  26. first to comment on the topic- king abdullah’s speech was all show. women can vote in 2015. he might be dead by then and when the next king comes…who knows? also this was a feeble attempt to distract from the issue of women driving. i’m so sick of it. “women will drive soon….” they’ve been saying that for over 10 years. now when there is finally a significant outcry a woman is LASHED. that is very telling.

    secondly, hijab…the root of all evil…i REALLY don’t see it that way. i love my hijab and love to wear it. no man forced me and i think that victoria secret commercials and advertisements with women in bikinis are evil. they give women unrealistic views on body image contributing to eating disorders, low self esteem, hypersexualize teenagers, etc, and also give men unrealistic expectations as well. men get ideas that women should have the body of super models. i feel more comfortable in my hijab, and not sexually objectified. i disagree completely on it being FORCED. I don’t see how people can see a piece of cloth as evil, rather it helps us interact better in society. btw i’m not sitting at home secluded from society. i’m out interacting and doing things for my community. the hijabis i know are more confident and socially intelligent than most nonhijabis i meet. so think before you judge people on what they wear. not everyone has the negative experiences as the sensationalist stories you hear on fox news.

  27. mnm11…not everyone on here has relied on Fox News to give them information (mostly bullshit) about the Arab/Islamic world..some of us have lived there for over 20 years and married into it and practiced that religion etc etc blah blah ….and thus speak from experience. You love your hijab than great for you. i love my chocolate though it isn’t very good for me when I eat it too excess…which I firmly believe is what hijab is all about…taking the modesty god prescribes in the quran to excess and creating a requirement (a religous mandate) that wasnt there to begin with….but judging, secluding, isolating, treating like second class citizens and all around oppressing and abusing women based on this simple square piece of cloth…or lack there of.

    God has to want so much more from people (women) than the complete covering of her body (or else) and Islam has to mean so much more than clothing, covering, segregation and oppression…otherwise its just men producing a god that believes and wants exactly what they believe and want…nice when your personal god is so cooperative like that.

    When I claim that I believe hijab is the root of all evil…it is because I feel that the oppression and abuse of muslim women (and hell even nonmuslim women who happen to live under Islams shadow) stems from the fundamental beliefs associated with hijab. Beliefs that were created by man for man and forced on women…again for man. Nothing to do with any god…much less THE god who listens to the desires of men above all else. What a crock.

  28. @mnm11
    More than 20 years ago they were talking about women being about to drive. I can tell you- I am more than ready.

    Also, if you can see absence of cloth as evil- I don’t see how you can’t understand that some see the presence of a cloth as evil. Personally I don’t think either are evil. It’s just cloth.

    @Coolred,
    I understand what you are saying (I think) but I don’t believe everybody has the same underlying beliefs about hijab. Certainly what you describe is prevelant- however I’ve known many people who genuinely see the root of it simply as modesty. And modesty is not necessarily evil. Modesty is a continuem- how many clothes are not enough? But yes, the institutionalism that you describe is pretty much evil and used to oppress women.

  29. ‘Modesty’ is not evil. When modesty is prescribed for the purpose of protecting MEN from lusting or otherwise maintaining THEIR modesty or if it is prescribed in order to greedily secure one’s ‘property’ from the lustful eyes of other men is what I call evil. So no, modesty is not evil but hijab is NOT modesty.

  30. If women drive I hope they are not covered to the point even their eyes have a vail covering. Drivers in Saudi are crazy enough.

  31. It is very interesting that women must go out to vote and stand for corporation seats. Because they are bored at home as they nothing to do. They have maids and drivers to do the job. Children at school or playing with girlfriends/boyfriends. Why not ,who cares.?
    Moreover Two women equals one man (Qur’an) , so Men win 100 seats,women must have 200 seats.
    Moreover women are smart enough to change their mind like wether. They are clever to destroy things rather creating something. As we have experienced in other countries.
    Further I can say hijab (these days) is used to hide evil and not modesty. Hijab is commandment of Allah(swt) to cover the body in a way that makes a woman modest. OBAYA is not hijab and head cover is used by Non-Muslims too.Itis observed that women bosob is half naked , bottom and curves are beautifully shown and will show in municipal meeting. Men will definitely enjoy. WHY NOT?
    SAMI SHEIKH

  32. I see a smile on the faces of these women and it is a good thing that they can vote weither or not, as some say, it means nothing, but yesterday on the news I heard that a woman was to be lashed for driving a car. Now with the right to vote I hope you can change the laws. Not so much for driving that will come but to have corporal punishment for breaking the driving law****(&(& Y|@@@#) Please. A major change is needed. That is what you may have a chance to do is time with you ability to vote. Women are adults and should not be treated as children.

  33. Sami…woman are destroyers and not creators? Seriously? Your level of maturity is showing with such a distateful and shallow comment. Come back and comment with something worthwhile when you have matured sufficiently to add value to the conversation.

  34. Women are natural nurturers, peacemakers and face conflict resolution every day with raising children.

  35. Salaam alaikhoum. However one-sided a voting system, I think that this proclamation that women will be able to vote and be elected is a good thing. Yes it could cause problems about the fact that women are not allowed to drive, however their husbands and sons are. Surely, if there is a women who is elected, she will know when the council sits and can arrange for either of these to drive her to the meeting if need be. However I can still see a difficulty. All women will need to be registered to receive a vote (just as in any country), but how will she get any forms. Presumably these would be initially addressed to the husband/head of household, and if he does not agree, couldn’t he just “lose” that letter! Maasalaama, Amelia

  36. I have read these post about the ability for women to vote in 2015.If voting is something that is good why not now. The Hijab as I read it here is for modesty, and so that men will not have lustful eyes looking at women. So men might want to consider that they are being told they have no self control. If they see a woman not covered ( in black, in the desert) they would not be able to control themselves? That does not say much for the men. In the same way as the Catholic church use to have rules that they called the 6 commandments of the church, added on to the ten commandments that were man made for control. Just a thought. Religion in my opinion should be a guide not something to fear. Can you say that if you are kind, don’t lie, don’t steal, or hurt anyone you will not be rewared in the after life? I do know that is what the Catholic Church said for many years and they finally admitted that no matter what religion if you are a good person you will be rewarded in the next life. I know I i digress, but the right to vote is so much more then a yes or a no it is a right to have a say in your destiny. A little hyperbole but what the hesck.

  37. I have read these post about the ability for women to vote in 2015.If voting is something that is good why not now. The Hijab as I read it here is for modesty, and so that men will not have lustful eyes looking at women. So men might want to consider that they are being told they have no self control. If they see a woman not covered ( in black, in the desert) they would not be able to control themselves? That does not say much for the men. In the same way as the Catholic church use to have rules that they called the 6 commandments of the church, added on to the ten commandments that were man made for control. Just a thought. Religion in my opinion should be a guide not something to fear. Can you say that if you are kind, don’t lie, don’t steal, or hurt anyone you will not be rewared in the after life? I do know that is what the Catholic Church said for many years and they finally admitted that no matter what religion if you are a good person you will be rewarded in the next life. I know I i digress, but the right to vote is so much more then a yes or a no it is a right to have a say in your destiny. A little hyperbole but what the heck.

  38. Coolred38.I like your comments. To you Islamic teachings are shallow and for unmatured. Women are creative to create destruction and to corrupt the social system given by Quran.
    The king Abdullah has given the permission to women to vote only because he has been pressiorised and scared of uprise as happening in other countries. I think he is very wise person who can foresee the future of the country.
    I admitt you know better than men thats why two equal to one. Actually Men were created to stay home and produce children but unfortunately it is otherway round. Allah bless you with wisdom.
    Sami

  39. ‘Actually Men were created to stay home and produce children but unfortunately it is otherway round’

    If that disappoints you you should come to the US where you will be free to be a ‘Stay At Home Dad’ if that is what you and your wife decide is best for your family. We’ve got all kinds of choices in this country. 🙂

  40. Sami…to YOU islamic teachings are all about putting women in their “place” as designated by man…nowhere in the quran does god stipulate that women are supposed to stay home and make babies. I might add that the world is in utter chaos right now…wars and poverty and all around B.S….and while women have their part to play in all this…men are the rulers of the world. Nothing much happens without their say so and consequent actions.

    Grow up little boy and open your eyes…if you hate women this much that you see them as merely childbearing harbingers of destruction…I pray you never actually feel the need to marry one. My sympathy is extended to this poor woman from now.

  41. Hi Lynn. You are right. Too much choice is the main problem? Too much freedom is problem(either men or women). Too much freedom crosses the limits and problem starts.
    Sami

  42. Hi , Coolred38. I do not hate women. I have a wife and 5 daughters. You have referred QUR’AN. I shall be grateful if you can quote one verse of the Qur’an wherein God has allowed women to go out of their homes for worldly material gains (earnings).
    I love women within their limits. Thanks for guidance.
    Sami

  43. Sami…god doesnt write every single thing down now does he? He leaves somethings up to personal descretion. If something is forbidden he expressly says so…if it isnt or not worth mentioning…then stands to reason he doesnt. Woman are not told to stay home and have babies…nor are they forbidden from going out and pursuing life just as men are. For you to claim there is some sort of prohibition when there isn’t is very arrogant of you.

    The things in which men and women are expressly forbidden to do are clearly mentioned…the list of things they are allowed to do is too long to mention. See how compassionate and giving your god is? You might learn from “him” eh?

    Im glad to hear you have a wife and 5 daughters no less. I hope they are teaching you to be soft and kind with your words…and ideas.

  44. hi Sami and Coolred38, “god doesnt write every single thing down now does he? He leaves somethings up to personal descretion. If something is forbidden he expressly says so…if it isnt or not worth mentioning” . I totally agree with you.
    Prominent Islamic scholers said that… Which is not mentioned in Quran nor in Hadith will be allowed to do if there is not any Ijma against the action and if it is not harmful for human.
    There were alot of women socialist, scholars and lawyers at time of Prophet ( PBUH).

    Islam dose allow a woman to go out side and do job while she can drive! Dont believe me?? Go and google it buddy. And please Sami dont be extremist . Do you know it is forbidden to mentioned a ” halal ( allowd) thing as Haram. again Women can WORK if there is not any violation of Islamic rules and also can DRIVE!

  45. @ Coolred,

    Exactly why are you so full of hate and anger against Muslim in general and Arab in particular. You come around here and spread lies and innuendoes about Islam, a religion that you evidently know nothing about. You jump at every chance to malign Saudi Arabia and its people, all in the name of being a woman’s advocate (I’m sure Saudi women can live without your support). And If I remember correctly you’re also the same woman who was maligning Bahrain in her blog for such a long time, just one question, were you forced to go to Bahrain by any chance, and once there, were you handcuffed and forced to stay??!!!!!!

    Now that you got you freedom, stop living on hate and vengeance, move on, Islam certainly in no need of the likes of you, direct your anger and frustration somewhere else. I’m sure if you like around you, you will find a lot of things that need to be fixed in your backyard, so work on them and leave us alone. But then again haters will always hate.

  46. @Sami – ‘Too much freedom crosses the limits and problem starts.’

    Only with ignorant people. You would be AMAZED at what good education can do for a population.

  47. @Anonymous Saudi – ‘You come around here and spread lies and innuendoes about Islam, a religion that you evidently know nothing about.’

    Come on! When you see a ‘lie’ or a ‘false innuendo’ challenge IT rather than trying to discredit a person and their legitimate personal experiences. I’m going to guess that you can’t do that because you can’t really find any ‘lies’ or ‘false innuendos’ but you want to attempt to discredit the person so that no one else will pay attention to her TRUTHS. So very typical coming from your part of the world.

  48. Hi, Coolred38
    Thanks. You can say whatever you like. I don’t know what religion you believe in? But definitely I can say that you do not understand Qur’an.I may tell you for your knowledge that All Regilations and all Law (irrespective of the fact these are mentioned in The Qur’an) are made and implented must be based on the COMMANDMENTS OF ALLAH(swt). All Law made out of context are not acceptable in ISLAM.
    I can quote References from Qur’an to proove that women are not allowed to go out for worldly meterial gains.

  49. Anonymous…Saudi …your entire comment to me is just so much horseshit without even substance. Please show where I spread hate and anger towards arabs and islam…something specific if you dont mind. Charging me with such slander is grievous in islam and so please support your claims with proof. Otherwise…shut the hell up because you are the typical muslim/arab apologists who cannot stand even the slightest bit of critism. I DO know what I speak of. I DO have the right to speak my mind. And you DO have the choice of ignoring my comments and simultaneously banging your head on the wall. Please dont feel you have the right to shut me up simply because YOU have decided what I have said is without merit or value. I was married to a “man” (arab no less….oh no) who felt the same way. Been there done that. Moving on. Have a good day.

  50. dear coolred38,
    You should know everywhere in the world there are good people and bad people. Also, in all religions of the world there are good believers and bad believers. Please stop to judge the arabs or muslims, because it is not all arabs or muslims the same.

  51. dana islam…I do have the right to judge those whose actions deserve judgement. I agree that not all arabs or muslims are bad people…you will never find anywhere in which I make this claim…but there are some bad apples out there…and those are the ones I speak of. But my opinion is just as valid an anyones…I did live in the middle east for 23 years, was a practicing muslim for 20 of it, and saw the very worst muslims and arabs had to show me…along with the good as well.

  52. @Sami – ‘I can quote References from Qur’an to proove that women are not allowed to go out for worldly meterial gains.’

    Oh, BRING IT! This could be FUN! lol

  53. Lyn, Hi. Thank you. Sorry, QURAN is not “FUN” as you have stated. Presumably you are not Muslim and there is no point to discuss further.

  54. ‘Sorry, QURAN is not “FUN”’

    LOL – No kidding?

    But there are a lot of Muslims that are on here (probably many misguided ones even). Can’t you go ahead and quote those references for them?

  55. Any religion should be separated from the state in every country!!!!! THE RELIGION SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED IN SCHOOLS!!! It should be a free will of every man and women!!! Man and woman are equal! I’m so happy I was born as a free woman, free human being… I’m driving a car, wearing a short skirt, drinking good wine… having fun every day. I also have a good education.. I’m a lawyer! If my husband wants to have sex with me while I’m not in a good mood, I just tell him to f**k off!

  56. […] images courtesy of The Guardian and American Bedu […]

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