Political turnover in the Gulf, the empowerment of Arab women

In Saudi Arabia, December 12th will be an important turnover for the political background. For the first time in the kingdom’s history, women will be able to vote and stand as candidates in local elections. Candidate registration was to run until September 17th, while voter registration ended on September 14th.

Neither male nor female candidates will be allowed to use pictures of themselves in campaign advertising, and on Election Day. Moreover of the 1,263 polling stations 424 have been reserved for women voters.

The December polls will be the first since the 2011 decision by late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud to grant women the right to vote and run for office. King Abdullah also appointed women to the country’s 150-member advisory body and allowed female athletes to compete at the Olympics in London in 2012 for the first time.

His successor, King Salman who took over the country earlier this year, continued to support the participation of women, leading to a large group of female workers entering the labor force in record numbers.

POLITICAL TURNOVER IN THE GULF: empowerment of Arab women

Saudi Arabia is still an absolute monarchy and King Abdullah is head of state and of the government.

Members of both the 150-strong Consultative Assembly and the Council of Ministers are appointed by the King, although Saudi citizens can run and vote in local municipal elections. Women can also now be appointed to the Consultative Assembly, known also as the Shura council, which advises the king and debates on current affairs, but cannot pass or enforce laws.

Next month’s parliamentary elections in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will feature 76 female candidates, according to the country’s official electoral commission, expanding the franchise from local leaders and tribesmen to a larger group. Oman will hold polls for its parliament in October, too. Qatar held municipal ones in May.


Political turnover in the Gulf, the empowerment of Arab women: from vote to bigger changes


The Saudi women, Safinaz Abu al-Shamat and Jamal al-Saadi, made history last Sunday becoming the first two women to register to vote.
An estimated 70 women are planning to register as candidates, and an additional 80 as campaign managers.

In a country in which women are banned from driving and travelling without the consent of a male guardian these polls are very big progresses. Education and moral awareness, as in the political sector, are reciprocally constitutive both affect the process of human change and the formation of enlightened members of society.

It has been claimed that feminist discourses and gender critiques, as well as ethical stands and an ethos characteristic of women’s studies, work to support Western imperialist projects and encourage Arab women to detach from their socio-cultural and religious values. Such claims, originated from historical and political circumstances peculiar to the Arab region in the colonial and post-colonial era, have contributed in slowing down significant progress in the empowerment of Arab women.

These days are the answer to those claims or better the past three decades have witnessed steadily women participation through measures to increase social, economic and political equity, and broader access to fundamental human rights, through improvements in work and education.

In these decades, there has been a marked shift in the approach to women’s issues from welfare to development. In recent years, the empowerment of women has been recognized as the central issue in determining the status of women.


Political turnover in the Gulf, the empowerment of Arab women: the Emirati Women’s day                        


Women gathered at the headquarters of Etihad to celebrate the inauguration of the first Emirati Women’s Day on Monday morning.

Commemorating this noble vision of the UAE’s founding father, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, announced that August 28 will be celebrated as the Emirati Women’s Day from this year.
It marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the General Women’s Union (GWU). The occasion also honors the role of women in the Armed Forces.

The event, which was attended by various local achievers, was created to raise awareness on the crucial role of Emirati women, not only as mothers, daughters, sisters and wives, but also as strong women who take on leadership positions. Inspiring stories of women in the aviation sector was the highlight of the event. 2015 is the year for women, that’s for sure.