Saudi Arabia, famously known as the holy kingdom for the Muslim race or as Fox News might know it, the place where freedom goes to die, is preparing for their 2015 elections. While this may seem like something common, this year’s elections will be incredibly special. This year, the women of Saudi will be given the privilege to vote and stand as candidates in polls.
This December it will be the first time Saudi Arabian women will be able to take part in the electoral process of a kingdom that has just taken its first steps towards gender equality.
In 2011, the legislation allowing Saudi women to vote was passed and the approval was granted by none other than the newly crowned King Salman. However, this new voting group is saying that most of the credit belongs to local female leaders who have played a tremendous role in pushing the initiative of the women’s vote.
The Saudi Gazette has revealed how a third of the 1,263 voting centers will be set aside solely for female voters; a move that marks this breakthrough with the importance that it deserves. And the eager political minds are not wasting any time, as two women from Mecca and Medina have already become the first to register as voters.
I fully agree with Saudi writer Afnan Linjawi when she said that this was an exciting time for women. Through this movement, Linjawi is also a registered voter now and she commented that this was an initiative she did not expect to come into full force so soon.
While this advancement is truly a triumph for Saudi Arabia, critics are still unimpressed with progress made. Many are asking how the women would even get to the voting booths when they are still not allowed to drive. Amnesty International was quick to comment on the news as they boldly stated that the privilege was “long overdue”. Moreover, AI shed a light on how this very issue is only a fraction of what needs to be addressed in terms of gender equality in the country as a whole.
Certainly no one is so blind as to believe that this is the only problem facing the women of Saudi and voting themselves into power will change everything. We can all plainly see that there are many reformations needed to take place before terms like gender equality can fully apply. But to zero-in on the negatives when they have come this far and fought so hard is a slap in the face to the women who risked their lives pushing this movement forward. No one looks back on the American suffragettes and says, “Well ladies, good job on doing nothing, being a woman still sucks.”
So let us all hold the women of Saudi Arabia in high esteem for the change they are creating for themselves and remember that until women everywhere are granted each of their basic human rights, no one is done working.
Image: Wikimedia Commons