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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 16 Oct 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Women As Ghost Candidates In Saudi Arabia

By Khalaf Al-Harbe

Oct 15, 2015

We like to talk big in front of TV cameras on condition that what we say should never be translated on the real ground or put into practice. Let it forever remain only talk, no more.

For instance, we love to appear before the world that we believe in women’s rights and totally support them.

We want the world understand that we strongly believe in the big role Saudi women play in social development. This also has one simple condition: that this role should never happen.

The latest conditions imposed by the general committee of the third municipal elections is enough proof of what I am saying.

The committee has prevented women candidates from gender mixing and warned them never to address the male voters directly otherwise a fine of some SR10,000 will be waiting for them.

The committee has made a lot of fuss about Saudi women participating for the first time in the municipal elections as voters and candidates but has not failed to put many hurdles in front of this participation.

Among others, these hurdles include preventing them from directly talking to their male voters to win them over.

Out of a total of 6,140 contenders, there are 366 women candidates. Though the number is humble, yet it gives the impression that women can finally have their God-given rights.

Women can, however, go around the prevention of directly talking to the possible male voters from their constituencies to convince them to cast their votes for them.

They can deputize men to talk to the male voters on their behalf. The representatives will go to the male voters and say to them: our candidate is saying hello to you and she promises to do this and that for your city or town.

The representatives will highly praise the women candidate and tell the voters that they are strong-willed, logical and kindhearted.

If a woman candidate cannot find a male representative, she can all the same contract a specialized PR company to explain her viewpoints to the men voters.

See how simple is the matter? We have succeeded in making women participate strongly in the municipal elections without allowing them to utter a word. We strongly supported the presence of women while they are actually absent. See how clever we are?

The whole world will very soon be surprised by this new kind of elections. We encourage women to run for the elections but prevent them from talking to the voters.

It is true that we were not in the first place in need of women’s participation in the municipal elections but we only wanted to prove to the world that we have a solution to every problem though the solution may be worse than the problem itself.

Needless to say if a woman candidate won the elections, she will face a host of problems and difficulties.

She will not be able to attend the meetings of the male-dominated council. She will not be able to deal with the municipality, which is run by men.

The women candidates will in this case have to contribute in the discussions of the civic issues from a distance. She will have to participate in the discussions right from her home while cooking food for her husband and children.

In this case the woman council member will have to express her views in WhatsApp messages. But what if the food has burned while she is occupied with the interests of the citizens?

This is the question which we should moot before we take the giant step of empowering women to run for the elections or to have their other God-given rights.