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We won’t give up, say Saudi women

Posted by on April 14, 2011 0 Comment

A group of Saudi women are writing a letter to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah asking him to ensure women can participate in municipal elections in the future.

The women, who previously launched an online campaign for the same cause, are trying to canvass more support.

Member of the campaign Khulood Al-Fahd said their efforts were real and not just limited to online endeavors.

“We arranged workshops and went on our own expense to various work trips to gain more experience, but were disappointed that women were prevented from participating in the municipal elections.”

According to Al-Fahd, society is now ready for women’s participation in the elections. “Preventing our participation will not stop us and we will eventually succeed,” she said.

“In 2005, only a few women had identity cards essential for obtaining voting cards, and that was a valid reason for not letting us vote in the municipal elections. This year’s excuse that we are not ready yet is meaningless.”

Al-Fahd added that they were not campaigning to stand for election, but simply seeking the ability to vote.

She said they were calling on the higher authorities to support them and issue regulations allowing the participation of women.

“We have seen a similar case in Kuwait where women were not allowed to participate in elections until the authorities took action. King Abdullah took a step forward when he appointed Nora Al-Fayez deputy minister of education, but it is time for another step forward.”

Enam Al-Asfour, creator of a Facebook group calling for suffrage for women, said she would go and ask for a voting card and see what happens.

“I believe there is still time and change can still happen in these municipal elections. We are not here discussing what women can give; we are discussing a right that women are entitled to. We are basically making clear that we want to change things, as it is our right,” explained Al-Asfour.

She added that this is a lasting campaign that aims to improve women’s participation in elections. According to her, the initiative has received online support.

Al-Asfour said that they have focused on five major places in the Kingdom including Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah, the Eastern Province and Jazan.

“We traveled and arranged workshops at our own expense. The campaign was launched last January but we have been working on it since based on promises and statements guaranteeing that women will be able to participate in the elections. However, the shock for local and international communities was that women were excluded.”

Women are now calling for a government decision to increase the participation of women at the municipal elections.

“We want to increase the awareness of the public to choose the best candidate, be it a man or a woman. We also want to promote women who want to get elected and push for a decision about women’s participation in the municipal elections,” added Al-Asfour. Reuters

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