Saudi voters elect 20 women candidates for the first time

Saudi women leave a polling station after casting their votes during municipal elections, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 12, 2015.

Saudi women leave a polling station after casting their votes during municipal elections, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 12, 2015.


Saudi voters elected 20 women for local government seats, according to results released to The Associated Press on Sunday, a day after women voted and ran in elections for the first time in the country’s history.

The women who won hail from vastly different parts of the country, ranging from Saudi Arabia’s largest city to a small village near Islam’s holiest site.

The 20 female candidates represent one percent of the roughly 2,100 municipal council seats up for grabs, which is seen as a step forward for women’s participation.

Around 7,000 candidates, among them 979 women, competed in the election for a seat on the municipal councils.

Riyadh saw the most women candidates win, with four elected. The Eastern Province saw two women elected, said Hamad Al-Omar, who heads the General Election Commission’s media council.

Saudi Arabia’s second largest and most cosmopolitan city, Jeddah, also elected two women, as did Qassim.

The mayor of the city of Mecca, Osama al-Bar, told the AP that a woman won in a village called Madrakah, about 93 miles (150 kilometers) north of the city which houses the cube-shaped Kaaba to which Muslims around the world pray.

Another woman won in Madinah.

Other women hailing from Saudi Arabia northernmost areas won, with two elected in Tabuk, one in al-Jawf and another in Hail. Additionally, a woman won in Saudi Arabia’s southern border area of Jizan, another in Asir and two won in al-Ahsa.

Many women candidates ran on platforms that promised more nurseries to offer longer daycare hours for working mothers, the creation of youth community centers with sports and cultural activities, improved roads, better garbage collection and overall greener cities.


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