Saudi Arabia recently confirmed that there would be no change to its ban on women’s suffrage, despite the populist uprisings for greater democracy in the Arab World. While an election official said that the country is “still not ready” for women to vote in the April municipal elections, he hopes that women’s suffrage is just around the corner. Ha.
Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to give the vote to women shouldn’t come as a surprise, even though it is the only Arab country that doesn’t allow women to vote. Saudi Arabia only recently granted suffrage rights to its male citizens (2005). Furthermore, elections only occur at the municipal level–all high level political positions are either appointed or born-into. Saudi Arabia is ranked as the 7th most authoritarian state in the Economist’s 2010 Democracy Index.
Poor Saudi Arabia…it’s sweet that they are trying to provide something constant in a world of change, but I think banning women’s suffrage is getting a bit old hat. As Mubarak and Ben Ali learned, times are a changing, whether or not these stuffy government’s like it or not.