In the first election in which Saudi women could both vote and campaign as candidates, women scooped up a total of seven municipal council seats.

Outnumbered 6:1, women weren’t even expected to get one seat, according Agence France-Presse. More than 900 women were among the 6,440 candidates vying for 284 seats.

Even so, the election was fraught with difficulties for women. In Saudia Arabia, women aren’t allowed many freedoms when it comes to interaction with men and the public, and female candidates weren’t allowed to campaign face-to-face to male voters. Even at the polls, female voters faced barriers: without the ability to drive, transportation to ballot boxes proved difficult.

The elections were a welcome step forward for Saudi women, however.

“Even if it was only one woman, we’re really proud of that. Honestly, we weren’t expecting anyone to win,”Sahar Hassan Nasief, a women’s rights activist in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, told AFP.

[Image via AP]

Contact the author at