Despite barriers, Saudi women in first election bid

Segregated from male voters and unable to drive themselves to hustings, Saudi women begin their first-ever election campaign on Sunday, a tentative step towards better representation in the male-dominated kingdom.

AFP| Last Updated: Nov 27, 2015, 10:41 AM IST

Riyadh: Segregated from male voters and unable to drive themselves to hustings, Saudi women begin their first-ever election campaign on Sunday, a tentative step towards better representation in the male-dominated kingdom.

Around 900 female candidates are standing in next month's municipal election, a poll that also offers a chance for female voters to elect their officials for the first time.

"If we want to develop or reform our country we should put a woman in every decision-making level," says Nassima al-Sadah, a candidate in the Gulf coast city of Qatif for the December 12 vote.

Saudi Arabia, an Islamic absolute monarchy, has no female cabinet ministers and is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive.

They have to cover themselves in black from head-to-toe in public, and require permission from a man in their families to travel, work or marry.