Yesterday it was announced that women in Saudi Arabia would be allowed to vote from 2015. This has been seen as a welcome step by campaigners who have been campaigning for greater rights for women in the Arab country.
The first time women will be allowed to vote will be in municipal elections in 2015. But does this really mean anything?
In Saudi men and women are strictly seen as unequal, and currently the sexes are segregated. It is also illegal for women to drive cars, or to be seen with any man who is not a relative or her husband.
Given that women are clearly not permitted to think freely for themselves or to act as individuals independent of men, I can’t help wondering just how independently women will be allowed to cast their vote when the time actually comes to do so, or whether they will be expected to vote based on the principles of the household into which they have married.
As women are not allowed to drive or travel independently, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that while they may have the right to vote, they will not be given the means to do so by virtue of the fact they have no other rights.
The right to cast a vote is worthless if the caster of that vote does not have the right to live as an individual in her own right.