Saudi Arabia Elects First Women To Public Office

Photo: AP Photo/Aya Batrawy
It's been a monumental weekend for women in Saudi Arabia. After historic elections allowed women to vote and run for office for the first time in the Persian Gulf nation, initial reports show that at least five — and as many as 19 — Saudi females have been elected to public office. While results are still coming in and the exact number of women elected thus far remains unclear, the news is inarguably remarkable for a patriarchal country that has been called one of the most restrictive in the world for women.

Out of 130,000 female registered voters, a staggering 106,000 — that's roughly 82% — cast ballots in the Saudi Arabian elections on Saturday, General Election Commission spokesman Hamad Al-Omar told the Associated Press. But men still dominated in terms of turnout. More than 1.35 million men had registered to vote in the country and 44%, or almost 600,000, actually showed up to cast their ballots.

While little information has been released about the specific women who've been elected to their local municipal councils, Osama al-Bar, the mayor of Mecca, told the AP that in a village called Madrakah, located about 93 miles north of the sacred city, female candidate Salma al-Oteibi had won a seat. Additional sources compiled by CBS News report that Lama al-Suleiman was elected in Saudi Arabia's second largest city of Jiddah, Hinuwf al-Hazmi was elected in the northern region of al-Jawf, and Mona el-Emery and Fadhila al-Attawy were elected in the northwestern region of Tabuk.

Gaining the right to vote marked "the beginning" of greater rights for women in Saudi Arabia. Jiddah resident Sahar Hassan Nasief, who voted for the first time this weekend alongside three generations of female family members, told the news outlet. "I walked in and said, 'I've have never seen this before. Only in the movies.' It was a thrilling experience."

More from Global News

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may be everyone's favorite woke bae, but there's a tiny royal who was not exactly impressed by him last weekend. ...
A ruling last month by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated that Iranian women could not ride bicycles because it "attracts the attention of men and exposes the ...
“It’s a special school for me because I was a student there. But I don’t think I can see a way back there now,” she said
I want to continue to support female activists, and hope that by starting with a small, singular task like refusing straws, I can encourage each one of you...
For many refugees, the struggle to survive doesn't end after fleeing war-torn Syria. With the help of 17-year-old Khaldeya, we're taking you straight to ...
Here's your daily cry: A little boy from New York is inviting a Syrian child his age to come and live with him in safety. “We will give him a family, and ...
Natasha Maimba, 14, and Minahil Sarfraz, 15, do a lot of the same things any teen girls do. Maimba plays the guitar. Sarfraz likes to mug for the camera...
(Paid Content) 2016 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record. How many thousands of studies will have to be published before everyone is on board ...
Emma Watson addressed the U.N. General Assembly again Tuesday, delivering a powerful speech calling for the reform of campus sexual assault policies. ...
Michelle Obama appeared at one of Broadway's landmark theaters Monday, taking the stage along with some of the industry's biggest stars. No, FLOTUS isn...
International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and her client Nadia Murad are teaming up to sue ISIS. Murad, a Yazidi woman who says she prayed for death ...
Kim Kardashian blasted deniers of the Armenian genocide in a full-page ad in Saturday's New York Times. Kardashian has been a passionate advocate for ...
France just found a new way to reduce pollution. The Associated Press reports that with a controversial new measure, France just became the first ...
One boy's powerful move to promote tolerance and love is going viral. On Saturday, thousands of people marched throughout Mexico to protest President ...