The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed an amendment offered by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) last week urging Saudi Arabia to allow women to vote and run for office. Boxer stated that “the Saudi government’s denial of basic rights to women is not only wrong, it hurts Saudi Arabia’s economic development, modernization, and prosperity. It is in Saudi Arabia’s best interest to allow women to fully participate in its society, and this includes the right to vote.”
Women were recently left out of Saudi Arabia’s first municipal elections in 40 years, which took place in February. Last fall, several Saudi women announced their intention to run for local office but were soon shut down by the announcement from Saudi officials that women would not be allowed to be voters or candidates in the elections.
In addition to not being allowed to vote or run for office, Saudi women are not allowed to drive, they can only inherit half of what their male relatives can, they are only allowed to enter into certain professions, and they are required to wear both a black robe and veil in public spaces.