At least 5 women elected for first time in Saudi Arabia, initial results show

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- At least five Saudi women have won seats on local municipal councils a day after women voted and ran in elections for the first time in the country's history, according to initial results released Sunday.

See Full Article

The five women hail from vastly different parts of the country, ranging from Saudi Arabia's second largest and most cosmopolitan city to a small village near Islam's holiest sites.

Though not many women are expected to win seats, even limited gains are seen as a step forward for women who had previously been completely shut out of elections.

The mayor of Mecca, Osama al-Bar, told The Associated Press on Sunday that candidate Salma al-Oteibi won in a village called Madrakah, about 93 miles (150 kilometres) north of the city which houses the cube-shaped Kaaba to which Muslims around the world pray.

Al-Bar also confirmed through election officials in Saudi Arabia's second largest city of Jiddah that another female candidate, Lama al-Suleiman, had won a seat there.

The official Saudi Press Agency, meanwhile, quoted the head of the election committee in the northern region of al-Jawf as saying that female candidate Hinuwf al-Hazmi won along with 13 men in that district. The news agency also reported that Mona el-Emery and Fadhila al-Attawy had won in the northwestern region of Tabuk.

Overall results from the capital Riyadh and other major regions were expected to be announced Sunday by the General Election Commission.

Many women candidates ran on platforms that promised more nurseries to offer longer daycare hours for working mothers, the creation of youth centres with sports and cultural activities, improved roads, better garbage collection and overall greener cities.

In October, the Saudi Gazette reported that harsh road conditions and long distances to the nearest hospital had forced some women in the village of Madrakah, where one female candidate was elected, to give birth in cars. The local newspaper reported that the closest hospital and the nearest university were in Mecca, prompting some students to forgo attending classes. The article said residents were also frustrated with the lack of parks in the village.

It is precisely these kinds of community issues that female candidates hope to address once elected to the municipal councils. The councils do not have legislative powers, but advise authorities and help oversee local budgets.

Around 7,000 candidates, among them 979 women, were competing for 2,100 seats across the country. The councils are the only government body elected by Saudi citizens. The two previous rounds of voting for the councils, in 2005 and 2011, were open to men only.

More than 1.35 million men had registered to vote this time around versus a little more than 130,000 female registered voters.

In Jiddah, three generations of women from the same family cast ballots for the first time. The oldest woman in the family was 94 year-old Naela Mohammad Nasief. Her daughter, Sahar Hassan Nasief, said the experience marked "the beginning" of greater rights for women in Saudi Arabia, who are not allowed to drive and are governed by laws that give men the ultimate say over aspects of their lives like marriage, travel and higher education.

"I walked in and said 'I've have never seen this before. Only in the movies'," the daughter said, referring to the ballot box. "It was a thrilling experience."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 5 people pulled from waters off Tofino after catamaran sinks

    Canada News CBC News
    Five people have been rescued from the waters off Vargas Island, near Tofino, B.C. after the 28-foot catamaran they were on took on water and sank, says the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria. A distress call came in around 1:20 p.m. Source
  • Louis Vuitton takes on Ontario flea market over fake goods

    Canada News CBC News
    Luxury retailer Louis Vuitton is going after the landlord of a Toronto-area flea market over the alleged sale of knock-offs on its property. According to documents released on April 19 in Ontario Superior Court, the brand, known for its iconic purses and accessories, claims the owner of Dr. Source
  • Australian woman's arrest in Colombia aims light at foreign drug mules

    World News CTV News
    BOGOTA, Colombia -- The family of an Australian woman arrested in Colombia for trying to board a flight with almost 6 kilograms of cocaine is mounting a campaign to defend her against what they consider trumped-up charges. Source
  • Tornadoes, flooding kill at least 10 in parts of U.S. South, Midwest [Photos] [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    CANTON, Texas — Severe storms including tornadoes have swept through several small towns in East Texas, leaving a trail of overturned vehicles, mangled trees and damaged homes. Authorities believe at least four people were killed and dozens injured, though they were still assessing the damage from the storms that swept through an area about 50 miles (80 kilometres) east of Dallas on Saturday evening. Source
  • Promises on jobs, affordability at forefront of B.C. election campaign

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER - There's just over a week left in British Columbia's election campaign and the leaders are out on the hustings, trying to shore up votes. Liberal Leader Christy Clark is spending the day in the southeastern part of the province, where she's repeating her party's promise to protect jobs in resource industries like forestry and mining. Source
  • NDP campaign to save ERs hits snare after someone hijacks site

    Canada News CBC News
    A campaign to save Winnipeg ERs spearheaded by Manitoba New Democrats has left the party name off signs and social media pages. But it hit a snare Saturday after someone took over a campaign website, which now links to a story about a government scandal the NDP had while in power. Source
  • Federal court dismisses VIA Rail appeal on couples with mobility scooters travelling together

    Canada News CBC News
    The Federal Court has dismissed an appeal by VIA Rail of a decision that would make it possible for a Toronto couple who rely on wheelchairs and scooters to travel together on a single train. Source
  • 'The back of her leg was kind of missing'; Woman attacked by shark in California

    World News Toronto Sun
    CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A shark attacked a woman wading in the ocean with friends, tearing away part of her upper thigh off a popular Southern California beach, authorities and witnesses said Sunday. The attack occurred Saturday near San Onofre State Beach in northern San Diego County. Source
  • 'Devastated': Canadian Rangers refuse to give up on members lost in Alta. woods

    Canada News CTV News
    Three of the four hunters who went missing in the northern Alberta wilderness last weekend were members of the Fort Chipewyan Canadian Ranger Patrol. The Canadian Rangers have been identified as Walter Ladouceur, Andrew Ladouceur and Keith Marten, according to a statement from the Department of National Defence. Source
  • Sleeping Edmonton man wakes up to truck crashing through bedroom

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A 25-year-old Edmonton man snoozing on what should have been a lazy weekend morning woke to the sound of twisting metal and concrete after a truck crashed through his bedroom wall. "I woke up panicked," said Kyle Roach, noting it happened around 8 a.m. Source