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Female candidate in Saudi Arabia records campaign ads on Snapchat while riding shotgun in car

November 4, 2016

Progress. It can be so nebulous. Take for example the opening seconds of the documentary below. A female candidate for elected office in Saudi Arabia is recording short campaign messages using Snapchat. She’s among 900 women who are the first female candidates to be allowed to run for public office.

“I’m happy, I’m very happy,” she says.

Yet, progress, being the nebulous thing that it is in Saudi Arabia, can also seem like it’s not happening at all. Keep in mind, Fedya is riding shotgun because women in Saudi Arabia are banned from driving. Her son Nasser is behind the wheel, and he had to take the day off from work so she could be driven around. That nebulous version of progress in the ultraconservative kingdom provides the tension throughout New York Times video journalist Mona El-Naggar‘s eye-opening and at times dark documentary, Ladies First: Saudi Arabia’s Female Candidates. There are almost double the number of women college graduates as male college graduates there, but few choices exist for women in what is a male-dominated society influenced by strict religious interpretation. The documentary is longish for the internet — it runs nearly 38 minutes — but the weekend is coming up. So take some time and give it a watch. Well worth the time.


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