Saudi Arabian Women Allowed to Vote

 

Saudi Arabian women are allowed to vote for the first time in history. They can also be candidates in the country's municipal elections.  However, reports say that it has become difficult for Saudi women to register and become candidates. They have not been able to speak to men because laws separate the two sexes in public. A total of 130 000 female voters registered to vote in the elections, almost a thousand have registered as candidates.

The election is not really important in Saudi Arabia because the king makes all the important decisions. But the voting right for  women is the first step in making the conservative kingdom a more equal society.

Nevertheless, Saudi Arabian women are still discriminated against in normal life. In one of the most conservative Muslim states in the world, women are not allowed to drive or go out alone without a man.  They must also cover their face in public. Many women don't have ID cards. They cannot get a passport  or go to the university without the approval of a male relative.

However, change is coming slowly to the Middle Eastern state.The number of Saudi Arabian women in the workforce has increased in the past few years. About 400 000 females now have a job in Saudi Arabia - which is about 16 % of the workforce.The government is starting to allow women to take a more active role in society and public life.

 

The decision to allow women to vote  was made by the late King Abdullah, who died in 2015. Earlier, he had already appointed  30 women to the Shura council, a group of people who advises the king. While human rights groups approve of this positive step they say that nothing will change if women don't get elected to office.

 

Women's rights activist in Saudi Arabia

Manal-al-Sharif , women's rights activist in Saudi Arabia - Image: Manal al-Shraif

 

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Words

  • active = involved in doing things that are important
  • advise = tell someone what you think they should do; make suggestions
  • appoint = to choose someone for a job or an  official position
  • approval = here: to allow someone to do something
  • cover = here: put something over your face
  • discriminate against = to treat a group of people differently or in an unfair way
  • election = when people vote to choose someone for an official position
  • equal society = country in which all groups of people have the same rights
  • female = women
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • however = but
  • human rights = the important rights that every person should have
  • ID card = small card that tells someone who you are, your name address etc..
  • increase = go up
  • in public = in front of people
  • kingdom = country that is ruled by a king
  • law = the rules of a country
  • municipal = about the town or city
  • nevertheless = in spite of what has just been said
  • office = here: an official job in the city government
  • register = to put someone's name on a list
  • separate = divide
  • vote = you want to have a person in a  certain position by making a mark on a piece of paper
  • workforce = all the people  who work in a country