King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia announced in a recent address that Saudi women will now have voting rights and permitted to nominate candidates in the municipal elections to be held in 2015. Women will also be granted the right to participate in the Shura council, an advisory council appointed by the king. He stated, “Since we reject to marginalize the role of women in the Saudi society, in every field of works, according to the (Islamic) Sharia guidelines, and after consultations with many of our scholars, especially those in the senior scholars council, and others, who have expressed the preference for this orientation, and supported this trend.”
The White House issued a statement praising the King’s address: “We welcome Saudi King Abdullah’s announcement today that women will serve as full members of the Shura Council in the next session, and will have the right to participate in future elections. These reforms recognize the significant contributions women in Saudi Arabia make to their society and will offer them new ways to participate in the decisions that affect their lives and communities.”
Despite gaining the right to vote, Saudi women still have to rely on male relatives or paid drivers to get around by car due to a religious edict issued by Muslim clerics. In June, Women in Saudi Arabia took to the streets to demand the right to drive, posting videos of themselves behind the wheel.