Commentary | Slow and Steady Wins the Race – Alharbi

Published: December 14, 2015

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Editor’s Note:

SUSRIS periodically shares perspectives from columnists in Saudi Arabia and around the Gulf. For your consideration here is a column by Talal Alharbi who writes regularly for Arab News. This week, in an Arab News column, he talks about the participation of women as voters and candidates in this weekend’s municipal elections in Saudi Arabia.

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Slow and Steady Wins the Race

talal-alharbi-2For the first time in the Kingdom’s history, Saudi women were allowed to participate massively in the municipal election held this week.

About 1,000 female candidates had joined the race to win representation in 284 municipal councils throughout the Kingdom.

Previously, women participation in election was restricted to voting only. This time around, however, they were allowed to run for office as well. Undoubtedly, the Kingdom is undergoing positive changes. Since Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman’s ascension to the throne, the Kingdom has embarked on a journey of socioeconomic reforms.

This time, women were allowed to participate as voters and candidates. The candidates had actively campaigned for their right to participate in the elections. In a society, which believes that women’s place is at home “from the day she is born to the day she dies,” this is a significant development.

In fact, the country’s far-sighted leadership believes that people should participate in the decision-making process. This, however, should take place gradually in an organized manner.

The country has been under attack by human rights watchdogs simply for not allowing women to drive cars. What these organizations do not understand is that every society has its unique traditions and ways of life. You can’t impose western ideals on our society. What these organizations ignore is that the Saudi woman actively takes part in all walks of life. But these organizations only choose to see veiled women but they do not understand that these women could be doctors, teachers, researchers and writers etc.

Moreover, they should understand the true spirit of Islam, which gives women their full rights on an equal footing with men. They only see uncivilized behaviors of some so-called Muslims who have distorted the true image of this faith.

Whatever the results of the election might be, the Saudi women’s participation in the municipal elections is a historic step and a significant opening for women to play a more active role in the development of our society.

Published by Arab News on December 14, 2015

For more commentary from Talal Alharbi link HERE.

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