They still aren’t allowed to drive, but women in Saudi Arabia have for the first time been elected to government.
In municipal council elections held over the weekend as many as 17 women were elected, although the state news service, Saudi Press Agency, has the number currently at four.
A ban on women standing for office was lifted in the run up to this election, the third since elections were first held in the country in 2005.
Al-Jazeera reported that turnout was around 25 per cent.
According to Sabq.org, a news website affiliated with the government, 17 women have won seats, Reuters reported.
They include four in Jeddah on the Red Sea; one near Islam’s holiest site, Mecca,and in Tabuk, Ahsaa and Qatif, in the east, Saudi press are reporting.
More than 130,000 women registered to vote in the elections, in contrast with over 1.3 million men. There were 978 women who nominated for council seats, and 5938 men.
The results have been welcomed.
“I think it’s great that several women won in different regions of Saudi Arabia,” writer Maha Akeel told The Guardian. “It shows how much Saudi society has progressed on the issue of not only accepting but actually supporting women in public office and this could mean that more change is to come. I’m surprised. We expected maybe one or two women would win.”