An op-ed in the Arabic Okaz, translated by sister-publication Saudi Gazette, notes that the appointment of women to Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council is a major step forward. The next step, the writer says, is to raise the percentage of women in the Council to approximate the percentage of women in the population. The most important future step, though, is to start making Council membership the result of elections, not political appointment.

That’s exactly right.

Shoura: From women’s membership to election
Shteiwi Al-Ghaithi | Okaz newspaper

The participation of women in the Shoura Council can be considered an addition to the women’s efforts aimed at making them equal to men in the management of the nation’s affairs.

The appointment of a number of women in the council was a crown to long years of struggle aimed at giving women a role in public life. Though women in the council are far less than men, yet this can be considered a quantum leap, as there were no women present in the legislative body a few years ago.

The next real step should be the expansion of women membership in the council. Instead of women constituting only 20 percent of the total members, the ratio should be increased to 40 or 50 percent. However, a most important step to be taken is to move from an appointed council to an elected one with wide authorities and powers to legislate and regulate.


January:18:2013 - 08:52 | Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Permalink
3 Responses to “Stepping Stones”
  1. 1
    Chiara Said:
    January:18:2013 - 10:12 

    I agree with you and with Al-Ghaithi. I also think that regarding this first step Saudi blogger Qusay made an excellent point (among other excellent points) in his post, “King Abdullah Appoints Women to Shura Council”:

    Women now represent 20% of the shura council, and according to the pareto principal (the 80-20 rule, or the law of the vital few) let’s hope this 20 percent is more effective at targeting issues.

  2. 2
    Sandy Said:
    January:18:2013 - 13:04 

    I disagree. The first thing that needs to be done is true education reform. Then a slow move towards things like voting. The current liberal pro- human rights population is out numbered considerably by those whose only education was the indoctrination of the schools. Elections would not bring us the government that is needed. Participatory governance is the result of a process of good education where a population becomes politically mature. You can not just call elections and expect a good result when a population is used to following, without question, the most “religious” person around.

  3. 3
    John Burgess Said:
    January:18:2013 - 14:29 

    @Sandy: I don’t really think that elections are the most important next step for Saudi society, just for the political system. And I agree with that that as long as education remains second-rate — at best — elections aren’t going to work out very well. Electors have to be smart enough to not be swayed by emotional or non-rational arguments. That’s a hard thing to pull off anywhere.

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