saudi women casting votes

Saudi Arabia holds first ever election open to women

RIYADH: Saudi women were allowed to vote in elections Saturday for the first time ever, in a tentative step towards easing widespread gender discrimination in the Islamic kingdom.

In another first, women were allowed to stand as candidates in the polls for municipal councils, the country´s only elected public chambers.

The absolute monarchy, where women are banned from driving and must cover themselves from head-to-toe in public, was the last country to allow only men to vote.

More than 900 women are running, competing with nearly 6,000 men for seats. They have had to overcome a number of obstacles to participate in the landmark poll.

Polling stations were also segregated Saturday.

As a result, women account for less than 10 percent of registered voters and few, if any, female candidates are expected to be elected.



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