Saudi King Abdullah has announced women will be given the right to vote and run in municipal elections, the only public polls in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom. He also announced women would have the right to join the all-appointed Shura (consultative) Council, in an address opening a new term of the council.
“Starting with the next term, women will have the right to run in municipal elections and to choose candidates, according to Islamic principles,” he said.
This means that women will be able to take part in the elections that will be held in four years, as the next vote is due to take place on Thursday, and nominations for those polls are already in.
“We have decided that women will participate in the Shura Council as members starting the next term,” the king said in an unexpected move to enfranchise women in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Women’s rights activists have long fought to gain the right to vote in the kingdom that applies a strict version of Sunni Islam and bans women from driving or travelling without the consent of a male guardian.