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Saudi women launch campaign for municipal polls


A group of women has launched a Facebook campaign to encourage the authorities to give them increased opportunities to participate in the Municipal  Councils, reports said.

The campaigners want to raise awareness to see more women involved in the councils. The campaign — titled Baladi (or My Country) — builds on the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah who has called on the authorities to support women in all sectors, said Arab News.

Enam Al Asfoor, a PR officer for the campaign, said women have the same rights as men and that more participation in elections would create better political awareness, which generates a feeling of responsibility and brings people closer to the decision-making process. She also said that women participating in elections would do much to challenge the negative stereotypes regarding Saudi women.

The campaign’s profile on Facebook, which was launched on January 16, said Al Asfoor, has so far attracted 1,525 members from across the Kingdom.

A number of programmes have already been organised in various parts of the kingdom to educate and raise awareness among women about elections and the role of the Municipal Councils.

“Building awareness and educating women is a gain even if we are not permitted to participate,” said Al Asfoor.

Meanwhile, Zuhair Al Harthy, a member of the Shoura Council, presented a recommendation to the council requesting that women be permitted to participate in the Municipal Council elections, at least through voting as a first step.

“I see no reason in preventing women from voting. The constitution does not differentiate between men and women in their rights and duties. The Ministry of Municipality’s report will be presented to the Shoura Council in the coming few weeks. Therefore, I have prepared recommendations to coincide with the report and be discussed in the council,” said Al Harthy, adding that he is optimistic that it will be welcomed and approved.

He added that women have the capabilities and skills to take part in Municipal Councils. “I am optimistic that the Shoura Council will vote in favor of allowing women to vote in the elections,” said Al Harthy, adding that women have the right to be part of the decision-making process as equal citizens.

Last October, Minister of Municipality Affairs Prince Mansour bin Miteb said in an interview that he has no reservations in allowing women to participate in the coming Municipal Council elections in 2011.