The official election results released on Monday in Riyadh indicated 19 women have been elected to Saudi Arabia’s local councils after the first election in which women were allowed to compete.
Observers said that the election win marks a breakthrough in the conservative kingdom.
The Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Head of the General Elections Committee Abdullatif bin Abdulmalik Al-Al-Sheikh, announced that 2,106 candidates had won seats after elections that saw 47-per-cent voter turnout.
He said that not less than 702, 000 Saudis casted their ballots on Saturday, including 106,000 women out of 130,000 registered, meaning almost 82 per cent female participation.
A media report noted that this was the first time in Saudi history that women were allowed to vote and stand as candidates.
It disclosed that the female winners stood in several areas of the country, including Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, the northern province of al-Jawf, and the province of al-Ihsa in the east.
It said that two-thirds of the seats in the kingdom’s 284 municipal councils were up for grabs in Saturday’s elections.
“The other third of councillors will be appointed by the government. The councils have a four-year mandate as Saudi Arabia has no elected parliament,’’ it said.
Women’s participation in the polls was decreed in 2011 by then-king Abdullah.
The monarch, who died in January, also ordered that 20 per cent of members of the kingdom’s consultative Shura Council be women.
In spite of the growing female representation on Saudi government bodies, activists complain that women in the country still require a male guardian to transact official business.