In a milestone moment for the country, women in Saudi Arabia participated in the country’s elections on Saturday, as both voters and candidates.
A total 130,000 women—about 1 percent of the country’s 12 million women—registered to vote, compared to 1.35 million Saudi men, according to the Associated Press. What’s more, some 980 female candidates ran for municipal council seats, races in which they were outnumbered by male candidates 6-1.
Their chance of success, however, is “slim to zero,” according to Karen Young, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute. During the election, female candidates weren’t allowed to speak directly with male voters, needing to campaign through male stand-ins or from behind a partition.
But activists hope that the election will be a welcome step forward for Saudi women, who still cannot legally drive, get higher education, swim or play sports freely, or travel abroad without the permission of a male family member.
“It is a historic day. It will be enough even if one woman wins.”