Saudi Arabian women can finally vote, sort of

Pin it

It's a theoretical step in the right direction for Saudi Arabian women. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz announced that women will now be be given the right to vote, provided they are first given permission by a male guardian. Despite the restriction, it's still the most important step for Saudi Arabian women's rights in decades. Women will also be able to sit on the Shura Council as members and will be able to nominate themselves for municipal council positions. 

Oddly, the decree won't come into effect in time for the elections scheduled for next week, and women will have to wait patiently until 2015 to ask their uncles for permission to vote. They'll also have to ask their uncles for a ride — Saudi Arabia is the last country in the world where it's illegal for a woman to drive. Women's rights advocates are excited by the unexpected decree, and hope that further reforms are in store. I'm happy that Saudi women will at least be given the opportunity to participate in public life, but I'm also sad that it's 2011 and we're only now celebrating any country's women's suffrage.