Topic: Elections/Kōwhiri

Green light for Saudi Arabian woman to vote in local elections

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

History was made in Saudi Arabia this week with women being able in vote in local elections for the first time. It's a big step forward for the heavily conservative Islamic nation given that many of its laws today restrict women from doing everyday tasks.

According to Anna Nikora-Hurst (Ngāti Tuhoe), “To hear that they've actually got the vote is a great thing, that’s a step forward for them who ever the women were that pushed for that they were very brave women with a vision and a drive in a very male dominated world.”

Saudi Arabia is one of the most conservative countries in the world. Women aren't allowed to drive cars and weren't allowed to vote unless they had male permission.

Anna Nikora-Hurst lived in Saudi Arabia for four years. Despite their cultural customs, she says there were many similarities to Māori.

“There were some similarities between their tikanga and our tikanga, between their karakia and our karakia. Like their karanga as well was very similar to ours in many ways I actually in a way felt at home there,” explained Nikora-Hurst.

Also, the ballet papers showed that nearly 1000 women put their names forward as potential candidates. It's hoped that young Saudi girls will have more rights in the future.

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