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

  • Japan heads to polls in snap election

    World News CBC News
    Japanese are voting in a general election that will most likely hand Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition a majority in parliament.Japan wrestles with future of its pacifist constitution ahead of election Sunday'We're scared, obviously': Japanese worry over growing North Korean nuclear threatsUp for grabs Sunday are 465 seats in the more powerful lower house, which chooses the prime minister. Source
  • Japan votes for lower house; PM Abe's party seen headed for win

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO -- Japanese are voting in a general election that will most likely hand Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition a majority in parliament. Up for grabs Sunday are 465 seats in the more powerful lower house, which chooses the prime minister. Source
  • 5 living ex-presidents attend Texas hurricane relief concert

    World News CTV News
    AUSTIN, Texas -- All five living former U.S. presidents will be attending a concert Saturday night in a Texas college town, raising money for relief efforts from Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria's devastation in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Source
  • Pair of Hip-loving teachers urge colleagues to 'teach like Gord'

    Canada News CTV News
    Following Gord Downie’s passing, a pair of teachers in Clinton, Ont. are urging their colleagues to use The Tragically Hip frontman’s words to inspire a new generation through a social media campaign they’ve dubbed ‘Teach Like Gord. Source
  • Three injured as small plane goes down in Saint-Lazare, west of Montreal

    Canada News CTV News
    SAINT-LAZARE, Que. - Three people have been injured in a small plane crash in a western suburb of Montreal. Emergency services received a call at about 4:20 p.m. about a small Cessna that landed in a tree on a private property in Saint-Lazare, Que. Source
  • True crime notebook [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    The body count is relentless. Americans kill other Americans at a rate that would have made the Viet Cong envious. Once in a while, stepping away from horrific massacres like the bloodshed in Las Vegas, Sandy Hook and elsewhere, you will find the true American Horror Show. Source
  • Virginia school's football season cancelled over players' racist simulated sex video on Snapchat

    World News Toronto Sun
    SHORT PUMP, Va. — A middle school football team in Virginia has forfeited the remainder of its season after players made a racially insensitive video. The video posted on Snapchat shows football players simulating sex acts on their black peers, WWBT-TV reported. Source
  • 'I think they got lost and were suffering in 100-degree heat'; Missing couple's deaths in Joshua Tree believed to be 'sympathetic murder-suicide'

    World News Toronto Sun
    SAN FRANCISCO — Friends and relatives of a couple whose bodies were found in Joshua Tree National Park say they believe the two got lost while hiking in the sprawling desert park and struggled in the searing heat with little food or water before they died in a “sympathetic murder-suicide. Source
  • Democratic chairman calls Trump 'most dangerous' president ever

    World News CTV News
    LAS VEGAS -- Navigating ongoing rifts on the political left, Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez said party unity is crucial in the fight against U.S. President Donald Trump, whom he lambasted as an "existential threat" to the nation. Source
  • Anti-Trudeau, anti-racism demonstrators clash in Toronto; four arrested

    Canada News CTV News
    A group of anti-Trudeau protesters and anti-racism counter-demonstrators clashed in Toronto on Saturday. According to organizers, the anti-Trudeau protest was planned as a means of expressing displeasure with the Liberal government’s tax policies, spending and controversial multi-million dollar settlement with former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr. Source