Published On: Sun, Dec 13th, 2015

Women cast their vote in Saudi Arabia elections for the first time

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Women in Saudi Arabia have cast their first votes in the country’s history, in municipal elections.

Women were also standing as candidates, another first, despite the conservative kingdom being the only nation where women are not allowed to drive.

A total of 978 women have registered as candidates, alongside 5,938 men. Around 13,000 women had registered to vote in municipals council elections around the country. Salma al-Rashed was the first woman to register to vote. “It felt really good,” she told the BBC. “Change is a big word but the election is the way to make sure we are really represented.”

Women and men remained segregated, as per the laws of the Kingdom, throughout the election campaign. On Saturday 424 female-only polling booths had been set-up across the country.

Elections themselves are a rare thing in the Saudi kingdom – Saturday will be only the third time in history that Saudis have gone to the polls. There were no elections in the 40 years between 1965 and 2005.

The decision to allow women to take part was taken by the late King Abdullah and is seen as a key part of his legacy.

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