Saudi women allowed to stand for municipal elections in 2015

Saudi women allowed to stand for municipal elections in 2015

RIYADH, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Saudi women will be allowed to vote and stand as candidates in upcoming municipal council elections expected to take place next year, according to Arab News Wednesday.

This was approved by the Saudi cabinet this week by giving the green signal for a legislation in this regard, after women were not allowed to participate in the 2011 elections but Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi had ordered shortly before the polls that they should be allowed to do so from the 2015 elections onwards.

The law allows councils to approve and implement municipal plans and programs approved in the budget. They would also oversee maintenance, operating, development and investment projects, the law states.

The Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs would determine the size and make-up of councils. They should not exceed 30 members, with two-thirds elected and a third appointed by the minister. The law gives men and women the right to stand as candidates, vote and nominate others. It grants independent, non-governmental and non- profit establishments and charities the right to observe election procedures.

The ministry announced earlier finalizing matters to allow females to stand for election in the third term of the municipal council, in which female candidates will have the rights to address their voters similar to their male competitors, while there will be gender segregation in the polling centers to meet the conservative nature of the oil rich country.

To avoid forcing females to show their faces as such practice is considered as a taboo in society, both male and female candidates won't ask to present their personal photos but only the elections committee stamp on their cards, as well as the cards of their elections teams.

Allowing females to stand and take part in the polling process comes as slow steps to integrate women into all walks in society, including allocating only-women jobs in the private sectors that was enforced this year, meanwhile females in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive, this place many hinders on their movement.