Saudi Arabia: Slow progress on women’s rights 


May 4, Riyadh: King Abdullah’s declaration that women will be permitted to vote and run as candidates in upcoming local elections in Saudi Arabia, in 2015, The Guardian reported.

According to BBC report, Saudi Arabia is known to be one of the World‘s most conservative societies, with the role of women particularly limited, although changes have been made in employment and politics, women are still not allowed to drive, and continue to face severe social restrictions, but some think progress is being made, despite resistance from conservative parts of society.

Nonetheless, Several Saudi intellectuals have called for a boycott of this month’s polls in protest; there have been strong objections on the declaration, followers of Saudi politics will recall that similar assurances have been voiced before and not acted upon, the guardian reported.

In the last elections, in 2005, practical considerations and the difficulty of preparing for women to take part at short notice were the official reasons given for the postponement of the decision. Elections scheduled for 2009 did not go ahead.

This is the first time the king has made an overt promise regarding women’s participation in politics, and it is encouraging that the issue is being discussed. But there remains a concern that the pattern will continue, in which women’s rights appear to have been granted in principle but never in practice.                  The Oslo Times

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