A rare and wonderful milestone was reached last week in the suffrage world when Saudi Arabia allowed women to vote and run for office for the first time. The New York Times reported:
A small minority of Saudi citizens went to the polls on Saturday for a rare exercise in democracy, or at least its closest equivalent in a country ruled by an absolute monarch and according to Shariah law. The elections for local councils across the kingdom were the first time that women were able to participate — as both voters and candidates — and rights activists lauded the move as further expanding the role of Saudi women in public life.
The elections’ proponents acknowledge that few women, if any, are likely to win. But they see their participation as one small step in a gradual — some would say glacial — process of reform. While women are still barred from driving and are subject to so-called guardianship laws that keep them from marrying, traveling or receiving some medical procedures without the consent of a male relative, some rules are not enforced as strictly as before.
We in the United States know first-hand about the “glacial process of reform,” but we applaud this first small step and congratulate Saudi women. For more information log onto: http://www.nytimes.com and search “Saudi women.”