King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia decreed on Sunday that women in the kingdom will now have the right to vote and run in local elections from 2015. This is a giant leap towards liberalization and reform for one of the world’s most conservative countries. However, they remain unable to serve as Cabinet ministers, drive or leave the country without permission from a male guardian.
King Abdullah’s announcement was made during his annual speech before the Shura Council, his advisory assembly. The council’s advice carries great weight in the kingdom and the decision to grant the women voting rights was made after consultation with them. [Read more...]