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King gives Saudi women the right to vote – in 2015

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Summary of story from Reuters, September 25, 2011

The king of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, has announced that women will be given the right to vote and stand in elections.

This move reflects the mounting pressure for social and democratic reform that is sweeping through the Middle East.

The measure, however, will do little alter how the country is run, as Saudi Arabia’s rulers only allow elections for half of the seats on municipal councils and those have few powers.

And only men will vote at the elections taking place next week; women will be allowed to vote in 2015.

The king also failed to address broader issues of women’s rights in a country where their movements and actions are heavily restricted. Women require male permission to work or to leave the country, for example.

For many people, such as Saudi writer and women’s rights activist Wajeha al-Huwaider, this decision represents the first step to removing other barriers that will allow women to “live a normal life without male guardians”.

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