Patt Morrison for September 26, 2011

Saudi women granted right to vote, but still can't drive

Saudi women wait for their drivers outsi


Saudi women wait for their drivers outside a shopping mall in Riyadh on September 26, 2011 a day after King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in municipal elections, in a historic first for the ultra-conservative country where women are subjected to many restrictions.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia granted women the right to vote, Sunday, after consulting with religious clerics. The decision is being hailed as a significant symbolic concession. Yet, elections are rare in the Saudi kingdom. A vote that has been delayed since 2009 will be held Thursday, but Saudi women won’t be able to participate in municipal elections until 2015.

Meanwhile, women are still prohibited from driving in Saudi Arabia, must be accompanied by a male guardian and are expected to be covered head-to-toe in public. In a country where very little political expression is allowed for women or men, how significant is the change in women’s daily lives?


Summer Said, Wall Street Journal reporter in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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