KING ABDULLAH (translation): Because we refuse to marginalize the role of women in every aspect of Saudi society within Sharia boundaries, and along with consultations with our clerics in the association of senior clerics and others outside it, all welcomed this direction and supported it. So we have decided the following.
Firstly, the participation of women in the Shura Council as a member beginning from the next term within the regulations of Sharia.
Secondly, from the next term, a woman now has the right to announce her candidacy to become members of the local municipality councils.
I nearly fell off my seat when hearing the King’s speech. My aunt and cousins were watching it live and the reaction they said was amazing! He starting from the top! Not with little things and small victories. He gave us a say. Finally! This was the only part of the 22 page speech he had prepared that he read setting the tone for the new year!
Congratulations to all Saudi women (even the ones who are trying to rain on the parade!) stop nitpicking and start working on your campaigns if you really want to change things! We are going to be part of the decision-making process and have a platform to be heard from. (not that we were ever quiet to begin with but now we can be vocal in an official capacity).
It makes me laugh to think that if the King had said “all women can drive” there would have been a bigger reaction internally and globally when potentially this new decision can solve so many more problems that women face here, and that are more important than just driving.
Women can now look into implementing the rights that are given to them by Islam and fight for the legislation to enforce them. We can fight for our rights in divorce and custody issues and child welfare. We can fight for more independence in issues that concern us such as not having to get permission to open bank accounts for our children. This is so much bigger than driving a car! Driving will come eventually when the people themselves stop opposing it. It’s a social taboo, no more no less.
I am swelling with pride and anticipation (and the ridiculous amount of pasta I had for lunch).
CAN’T WAIT FOR 2015!!!