At least 20 women have been elected to municipal office in a historic election in which women in the country were allowed to vote and stand for office for the first time. With 1,000 women and 7,000 men competing for roughly 2,100 seats, women won only a small percentage of the electorate. Nevertheless, activists see it as an important step for women in a country where women are still not allowed to drive and are severely restricted by guardianship laws. A positive sign is the exceptionally high voter turn-out among women: 81 per cent of the 130,000 registered female voters cast their vote, compared to just 44 percent of the 1.35 million registered male voters — a higher turn-out than in many Western elections.
The newly elected women come from different regions of the country, from villages to large cities — even the most conservative regions, Qassim, elected two women. Due to strict gender segregation, most of the women ran their campaign online, often through social media. According to the Associated Press, many of these women ran on platforms “that promised more nurseries to offer longer daycare hours for working mothers, the creation of youth community centers with sports and cultural activities, improved roads, better garbage collection and overall greener cities.”