By Rositta Liosi – EMTV Online
This year marks a tremendous occasion for Saudi Arabian women, who are now eligible to cast votes and stand as candidates in municipal elections.
This is a first for the deeply conservative society, where women are not even allowed to drive.
Despite the fact that female candidates have to speak behind a partition while campaigning, or be represented by a man, a total of 978 women have registered as candidates alongside nearly 6,000 men.
Officials have noted that about 130,000 women registered to vote, which is a far cry from the 1.35 million male registered voters.
The election is for municipal councils with few powers however this is still a milestone for Saudi women.
“This is a historical moment. I thank God I am living it,” Saudi academic and women’s rights campaigner, Hatoon al-Fassi, told BBC reporters in an interview after she had cast her vote.
She has been pushing for this day for more than a decade.
“I am not really worried about the number, or to have any women winning. The fact that we have gone through this exercise is what really matters.”
Saudi women took to twitter to highlight this momentous occasion, Amal Faisal tweeted “I just voted for the 1st time in my life! It feels amazing to know that I have a voice, & it matters!”
As part of the late King Abdullah’s reforms he had made the decision to allow women to take part in the polls, and this is seen as a key part of his legacy.
Before he died in January, he appointed 30 women to the country’s top advisory Shura Council.
At the end of the day, both man and womankind must take heed of the fact that has been disregarded in so many societies for so many years that, “When you educate a woman, you educate a nation…”
This is the first step in what is a trickle of tremendous achievements to come for Saudi women, and the world applauses this historic event.