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April 12, 2011

Saudi women make up shade municipal councils in response to their exclusion to the municipal election

Not convinced by the decision of the Commission of municipal elections in Saudi Arabia not to allow women to participate in the electoral process activists of the Saudi Women Jurists Association established a shade municipal council in which women can participate.

Not convinced by the decision of the Commission of municipal elections in Saudi Arabia not to allow women to participate in the electoral process, which begins on the twenty-fourth of April, and the way the denial of women's participation in the next election is justified activists of the Saudi Women Jurists Association established a shade municipal council in which women can participate.

 

The Saudi human rights activist Dr. Hatun Jawad Faassi and other activists plan to continue their campaign, to allow Saudi women to participate in municipal elections, rejecting the arguments of the Election Commission.

The establishment of a shade municipal council The intention of Dr Faassi' and other activists is to create municipal councils for women's parallel to the councils of men, and she underlines: "I did not give up nor stop our campaign for women to be able to vote although we did not bring it to streets... and we decided to create municipal councils parallel to the municipal elections for men and it will be limited to women only".

 

She continued: "There is nothing in the system that prevents the creation of shade municipal councils. There is exaggeration in the excuses of the Election Commission used for banning women from elections and it is contrary to international standards which require that there be no distinction between women and men."

Dr Fassi states that the Election Commission does not face the issue for the first time. She adds: "As we write for a long time and remind the Ministry of the municipality of the matter: there are nine million women in KSA! The ministry needs to equip themselves;"

For his part, chairman of the municipal elections, Rahman Dahmash, says that the system itself does not prevent the participation of women in municipal elections, but that there are "some shortcomings in the polling stations and the electoral process for now."

 

He stressed that the procedures for women to be able to vote in the elections are available in preparation for the next stages and he promised, at a press conference on the occasion of the start of the municipal elections that "the participation of women in elections will be a reality in the coming period after the completion of deficiencies."

Although the Commission's decision, activists will continue their campaign on "Facebook" to claim their right to participate in the municipal elections. And the campaign "My country", which was launched by a number of activists on the Saudi social networking site "Facebook" attracted more then 2014 members. The campaign itself is "a national initiative of independent women of all parts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and seeks to achieve the effective and full participation of Saudi women in municipal councils through awareness and rehabilitation of the woman's right to participate and the importance of her role in the development of municipal services and social issues because she knows the needs of the family and society."

 

The organizers of the campaign adds "Women have the same right as men and she should be able to exercise them equally without any discrimination, which means that the right to participate in the elections is a legitimate right of women also according to the texts of international conventions signed by the Kingdom, and the texts of religious laws as well."

But it seems that the campaign will have to last longer before achieving its objectives. It is noteworthy that the regulations allow candidates nomination for a second term in municipal elections. The number of municipalities has been increased from 179 to 285 councils.