Women in Saudi Arabia will be given the right to vote and run in future municipal elections, which are the only public polls in the country, the BBC reports. The BBC’s world-affairs correspondent, Emily Buchanan, says it is an extraordinary development for Saudi Arabian women, who are not allowed to drive or to leave the country unaccompanied.
King Abdullah, speaking at the opening of the new term of the Shura Council, announced that the changes will occur after the municipal polls on Thursday.
“More than 5,000 men will compete in municipal elections on Thursday – the second-ever in the kingdom – to fill half the seats in local councils. The other half are appointed by the government,” according to the BBC. “The next municipal elections are due in four years’ time.”
Don’t Feel Smug
Before feeling self-righteous about this momentous development, visit this women’s rights timeline site: http://www.legacy98.org/timeline.html
Reread the Declaration of Sentiments, signed by 68 women and 32 men in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_Sentiments
Visit the informative Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, where many are deeply touched by the courage and intent of those who signed the Declaration. http://www.nps.gov/wori/index.htm
Remember that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution wasn’t adopted until 1920, 72 years after the Declaration at Seneca Falls was signed. The United States will celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in 2020.
A Foundational Relationship
The two-gender reproductive strategy emerged in a blossoming of life forms approximately 140 million years ago. Our human conversation about gender is barely informed unless it takes into account that more than a million life forms have thrived and are thriving as two genders. The partnership of human genders is not a whimsical and superficial alliance subject to the shifting tides of cultural history. The female and male genders are the foundational relationship sustaining our kind and should be honored as such.
Biologically, human males are females are mostly identical. The majority of chromosomes they inherit are identical. Rapidly developing science is informing our search for a better understanding of their similarities and differences. For example, technologically empowered brain mapping suggests the genders sometimes process the same language in different parts of the brain. Yet the subject of gender goes far beyond the biological sciences.
Defined at Birth
The legal requirement that gender is declared near the time of birth, when medical staffs must define a newborn child as male or female, has tremendous implications in a person’s life. The decision, based on obvious differences, does not take into account complex biological chemistry, which may be ambiguous.
It’s a tragedy that from the moment of their birth, tens of millions of individuals are relegated to a life of active persecution and second-class citizenship. The culture and laws underlying the persecution of gender ambiguities ignore new science demonstrating the extent to which such ambiguities are present throughout nature.
The legal declaration required to be made at birth is momentous when being defined as male or female impacts a person’s rights, potential to acquire resources, and overall life opportunity in the human community. It’s tragic that the female gender suffers from a higher incidence of poverty worldwide, primarily because of historic exclusion from education and practical vocations to advance women’s circumstances.
There may be no tribe or nation that hasn’t moved closer to accepting the principal that females are entitled to the same rights and privileges as men. Widespread recognition that both genders are entitled to equality before the law is one of civilization’s recent revolutionary advances.
The alliance of male and female predates humanity and needs to become stronger and wiser than ever for our human life form to survive and prosper.