Women participation in 2011 municipal elections: same old excuses

The municipal elections that were conducted in 2005 were the first taste of democracy and governmental participation that Saudis have ever had, unfortunately it was not up to anyone’s expectations. People voted according to tribal affiliation and who their sheikhs directed them to vote for. Campaigns were virtually non-existent and at the end of it all the elected were not heard of, nor results seen.

Above all, the issue that stands out the most with the 2005 elections were that women were banned from voting and nominations. The real excuse was that a large faction of our society still thinks of women as property, sheep, and/or seductive sinful creatures out to seduce them into damnation. However the official excuse was a bit more diplomatic; that it was the first experiment and that the government was not prepared, facilities-wise, to receive women voters.

Since a lot of younger Saudis have started to question the fatwas about women being incapable, lack of women only facilities has become the go-to explanation. This is the same excuse that is currently being employed to explain why women are still banned from driving cars, and not only by muttawas but also by people who seem quite pro-women in most other aspects. They say we need women traffic police as if when an accident happens, not the nearest patrol should attend the site, but rather the one that matches the gender of the driver!? They say we can’t even begin to think about women driving until we have gender segregated driving schools and traffic administration. Lack of gender segregation has not stopped our police, firemen, ambulances, courts…etc. None of these have women employees and yet women are still served by them all. Then we have the government faction that has the most interaction with women on an everyday basis, the PVPV, and they too have no women employees to attend to women.

Bottom-line it’s an empty excuse and those who use it know it to be so. Nothing says that louder than the secret meetings that were conducted regarding the upcoming 2011 municipal elections. In March of last year Alwatan reported that the municipal council members, 1212 in total and of course all men were asked if there was any point in allowing women to vote or participate in any way. This is getting to be beyond ridiculous. How long are women going to be treated like third class citizens? And I’m not the only one frustrated with the situation. Eman Al Asfour, Iman Fallatah and Khulood Al Fahad have decided to take things into their own hands and have started a promising campaign demanding the right to complete participation in the upcoming municipal elections. Besides joining the campaign on its Facebook page, Saudis can actually take part by sending in their contact information, suggestions and how they can help.


Filed under Gender Apartheid, Women campaigns, Women driving

9 responses to “Women participation in 2011 municipal elections: same old excuses

  1. I think that women who already have a license should start driving. Nobody should stop them.
    I don’t have a license yet. However, I am considering to go to Bahrain this holiday and get a driving licesne. Once I do, I’ll buy a car and I will drive to work, school and nearby malls. I don’t mind getting arrested because I am so mad and frustrated that I will do it anyways.
    Wajeha Alhowaider tried but it didn’t work. What makes U think that this time it will work?
    Nothing change! Men still believe that women shouldn’t drive, well the majorty of them I mean.
    As long as men are the ones who are making the decsion then women will never drive. Women should make the decsion of driving and start driving. I believe that this is the only way that eventully the goverment will allow women to drive.

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  3. Alicia

    My study of American society has taught me that no one gets rights by asking for them. Rebellion against oppression has so far been the only path that every led to freedom.

    • Muhammed

      i tottaly disagree with you that rebellion is the only path to freedom. i think dialoge and mutual understanding in terms of letting the people in authority reason with the disadvantage in some issues will go a long way in solving many problems. islamically, taking arms and ammunition against government is prohibited.

  4. I’ve joined the campaign 🙂 But,I don’t have high hopes 😦

  5. Jenna

    mmm alicia so true. i am watching Egypt. I am watching Syria. I am watching. I am watching. no one gives freedom away and we all must fight for it by peace, by not giving up. but not backing down when the shout, call names and throw rocks. Every revolution has its own flavor and style. I am so grateful to the women who fought to give us, me, the power to vote, to own land, to divorce easily, to run from bad men, to have control over my body. Men have NEVER handed that over… we women had to take it for ourselves.

  6. Alicia

    I so wish it were otherwise. May God mercy those killed and may the protests result in better lives for all.

  7. Pingback: Les Saoudiennes tenues hors de l’isoloir - #Printemps arabe - Blog LeMonde.fr

  8. Annelie

    Maybe even gender segregated streets? Streets for women and streets for men… ROFL I am a bus driver by profession and a woman and I feel the whole segregated idea is silly.

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