Seventeen women have won seats in municipal councils in Saudi Arabia as women were allowed to vote and run as candidates for the first time in history
in an election on Saturday, December 12, 2015.
Salma bint Hazab al-Otaibi became the first elected female politician in Saudi Arabia when she won a seat on the council in Madrakah in Mecca province.
Sabq.org, a news website affiliated with Saudi Interior Ministry, reported that the 17 had successfully been elected across the country.
About 131,000 women and about 1.35 million men registered to vote. A total of 978 women registered as candidates, alongside 5,938 men, however many were barred from registering by the authorities. Female candidates had to speak behind a partition while campaigning or be represented by a man.
It was also only the third ever election in Saudi Arabia. Just men participated in the 2005 and 2011 polls.
The development is viewed as historic for Saudi Arabia where women have fewer rights than men, being forbidden to drive cars and making major life decisions without consent from male relatives, among other restrictions.
“I deeply believe in the importance of voting in order to be part of my country’s drive to empower women and elevate their status. The turnout was good and the voting proceeded smoothly. I personally voted based on the candidates’ programs and plans,” one of the female first-time votes told Gulf News.