Saudi women will gain right to vote… sort of… later…
But, of course, they’ll have to be driven to the polling stations.
Saudi King Abdullah announced on the weekend that Saudi women will be allowed to take part – vote and run for office – in the 2015 local elections.
Of course, they are still not allowed to drive. That would be way too much to expect, wouldn’t it?
Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, follows deeply conservative social traditions and adheres closely to a strict version of Islam. Despite Abdullah’s attempts to push through some social reforms, women still cannot drive and the sexes are segregated in public.
So they’ll be able to vote, just not right away.
Sure, it is a tentative step into the 20th century (we’ll leave the 21st till another time, k?), but a step is a step, right?
I guess that the Saudis, like the rest of the Arab world, have been a wee bit offput buy all of the democracy stuff that has been breaking out in that part of the planet lately and they figure that they had been at least have the appearance of addressing some of the popular concerns. This step is being taken out of fear of uprisings, certainly not due to some democratic awakening by the Saudi royal family, clerics and government.
But it’s a step, right? Progress?
Sure, but unfortunately, the men in Saudi Arabia won’t care too much for this “progressive” move and they, not the law, will determine whether or not their spouses, daughters, grand-daughters and nieces exercise their right to the franchise.
And does anyone really think that these men will allow this to happen? Some might, but most will not. No way.
But maybe, just maybe, twenty years from now will see an enlightenment among the estrogen-challenged citizens of Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region and women will legally, freely and without fear exercise their democratic rights.
And maybe even be allowed to drive themselves to the polling stations.