New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) Union Minister of Minority Affairs Najma Heptulla on Tuesday termed the success of women candidates in municipal elections in Saudi Arabia as a “great achievement”, and congratulated Saudi King Shah Salman and the people of the country for the “commendable work”.
“As far as women’s rights (in Saudi Arabia) are concerned, King Shah Salman is following in the footsteps of his predecessor King Abdullah. This will prove to be a milestone for the Islamic world in general and the people of Saudi Arabia in particular,” she said in a message to the King.
Last week elections in the Kingdom saw 979 women candidates out of a total of around 7,000 aspirants, of whom 20 women managed to notch historic victories.
A candidate, Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi became the first woman to win from the Madrakah municipal council, around 150 km north of the holy city of Makkah, and demolished the centuries-old monopoly of males in Saudi Arabian society.
Heptulla also expressed joy over women being given a chance to not only cast their vote but also to contest the elections.
The civic elections to nearly 2,000 seats saw some 130,000 women registered voters — which was barely 10 percent of the male voters — but 82 percent of them trooped out to exercise their franchise. In comparison, just 44 percent of the male voters voted of the total population comprising 55 percent males.