Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Saudi Arabia: Women Seek Participation in Upcoming Municipal Elections

(Apr. 22, 2011) In April 2011, Saudi women activists wrote a memo to the designated authorities in the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs requesting rights for female voters and candidates in the upcoming municipal elections. Many Saudi women have opposed the ban imposed by the Saudi government on the registration of female voters and candidates. Ministerial Resolution 38396 governing municipal elections grants all Saudi citizens the right to vote and run as candidates in those elections.

In its efforts to promote the principle of democracy in the kingdom, the Ministry of Municipality and Rural Affairs announced that voter registration for the upcoming municipal elections will begin on April 23. However, the Minister of Municipality and Rural Affairs declared that Saudi women will not be able to either run or vote in this election. According to news reports, the Minister stated that the ban on women's participation is due to the lack of segregated voting facilities.

Saudi women activists rejected the ban and suggested what they thought was an effective solution, the appointment of women in the municipalities to office. A ministerial resolution issued by the Minister would make those appointments possible. Activist women also pointed out that there is no provision in Ministerial Resolution 38396 prohibiting women's participation in elections. (Saudi Women File a Memo to Participate in the Municipality Elections [in Arabic], ASHARQ AL AWSAT (Apr. 16, 2011).)