Eighty women to run for Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province council

No women participated in the 2012 elections for Saudi's Eastern Province council, but this year there are more than 80

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There are over 80 women running for the Saudi Arabian Eastern Province city council elections in August with at least 10 female candidates contesting places on each municipal committee, a social activist told Al-Hayat.

Fowziyah Al-Hani of the “Baladi” campaign, which works to increase women’s representation in the city council, said female participation in the Shoura Council has improved Saudi society.

She believed more women in the city council would help societal development as well. She said: “I believe the Saudi woman will be a complementary addition to the city councils in the Kingdom.

“A lot of women are apprehensive about nominating themselves. They fear their agendas and plans would be stolen by other candidates if they were publicized.”

She added women candidates would always be under the spotlight in the election and their private lives exposed. “It is financially and emotionally exhausting to campaign and challenge social norms.

“Not everyone can afford such a cost but the women who nominated themselves have great courage and I wish them all the best and thank them for their initiative.”

She added no women participated in the 2012 elections, driving her to organize an awareness workshop for women in cooperation with the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation.

“We had a great turnout in 2012 and we will hold the workshops again this year with bigger hopes and more improvements.

“In 2012, we were introducing the concept and importance of city council elections and this year will be talking in detail on how to run a successful campaign and to lobby in the municipality.”

Candidate Hanan Al-Daham said she was the first Saudi woman who decided to run for city council after King Abdullah announced that women should participate in the elections.

She said: “I run to serve the citizen, the resident and the country as a whole. “As a citizen, I have a social responsibility and an obligation to give back to my community.

This is my first city council election but it is not the first election I have stood for. I was previously elected as the head of the National Retirees Society.”

She added the Saudi woman is capable of giving back to society and enhance the infrastructure of the Kingdom.

She said: “We will be rivaling men and bringing our perfectionism into good use. My participation in the election does not compromise my religious values and morals as a Saudi Muslim woman.

“Women in the city councils is looking up and many doors will open for us, giving us the opportunity to contribute to the betterment of our society.”

This was first published by the Saudi Gazette.

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