Riyadh:Dec 14; At least 19 Saudi women won seats in historic municipal elections that were open to female voters and candidates for the first time here.
The women hail from vastly different parts of the country, ranging from Saudi Arabia's second largest and most cosmopolitan city to a small village near Islam's holiest sites. Though not many women were expected to win seats, even limited gains are seen as a step forward for women who had previously been shut out of elections.
Among the women winners were two in the conservative al-Qassim region, three in al-Ahsa in the east, two in Jiddah and at least three in the capital, Riyadh.
About 7,000 candidates, among them 979 women, were competing for 2,100 seats on municipal councils across the country, the Associated Press reported. The councils are the only government bodies elected by Saudi citizens. They do not have legislative powers, but advise authorities and help oversee local budgets.