For the First Time Ever, Saudi Women Are Registering to Vote

Two women make history—and make way for thousands more.

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In Saudi Arabia's 83-year history, men have been the only citizens allowed to vote in public elections. Until now. 

A royal decree passed in 2011 is finally coming into effect: Women will be allowed to vote—and run—in municipal elections come December 2015. Arab News reports that since the announcement, 70 women have indicated their intent to run for office. 

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And this weekend, women began signing up to cast their ballots. Safinaz Abu Al-Shamat and Jamal Al-Saadi, from Makkah and Madina, were the first two on record.

"The participation of the Saudi women in the municipal elections as voters and candidates was a dream for us," Al-Saadi told the Saudi Gazette. "The move will enable Saudi women to have a say in the process of the decision-making."

But how much of a say remains to be seen. In a country where women rarely have a voice, publicly or privately, there are doubts about the impact of the gesture. At the very least, it's a not-insignificant step in the right direction.

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