Women in Saudi Arabia are to be given the right to vote and run in municipal elections, the Gulf Kingdom’s King Abdullah has announced.
He said they would also have the right to be appointed to the consultative Shura Council.
The news will be welcomed by activists who have long called for greater rights for women in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
The changes will take effect from next year, the king said.
King Abdullah announced the move in a speech at the opening of the new term of the Shura Council.
“Because we refuse to marginalise women in society in all roles that comply with sharia, we have decided, after deliberation with our senior ulama [clerics] and others… to involve women in the Shura Council as members, starting from next term,” he said.
“Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote.”
The BBC’s world affairs correspondent Emily Buchanan says it is an extraordinary development for women in Saudi Arabia, who are not allowed to drive or leave the country unaccompanied.
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