I just watched “Ladies First: Saudi Arabia’s Female Candidates,” a short New York Times video documentary regarding the historic elections in Saudi Arabia last December. The film features three different Saudi women who were not only granted the right to vote in local municipal elections for the first time ever last year, but who also decided to run for office.
While Saudi Arabia remains a kingdom, at the local level there are city councils consisting of elected officials. It should be noted that Saudi men were barely given the right to vote and hold public office in 2005. The next election wasn’t until 2011. That same year King Abdullah announced that women would be able to vote and run for office in 2015.
Offering a glimpse inside the lives of these brave, yet very different, Saudi women, the film follows the frustrations and roadblocks females face in her day to day existence, much less in running for public office. If the man in a Saudi woman's life is not supportive of her dreams, he has the right to reject her desires - because every Saudi woman has the legal status of a child her entire life, and every decision about her life ultimately rests with her legal male guardian.
I highly recommend watching this film if you are interested in how things work (or don’t work) in Saudi Arabia. Great job by Mona El-Nagger, an Egyptian journalist who has been covering the Middle East for ten years.