Saudia Arabia will finally allow women to vote

September 26, 2011

Download Story
(AP/Hassan Ammar)
Saudi King Abdullah announced on Sept. 25 that women would be allowed to vote for the first time in nationwide local elections.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia surprised his ultraconservative nation Sunday by announcing bold reforms that will give women the right to vote, run for local office and serve on the Shura Council, the king's advisory board. The reforms would begin in 2015.

Some observers suggest the ailing 87-year-old king seeks a legacy as a reformer in light of the Arab Spring movement that’s sweeping the Middle East. When rumblings of revolt echoed in Saudi Arabia, the government promised $130 billion in salary raises and spending for social and religious programs.

Mary Ann Tetreault, professor of international affairs and political science at Trinity University, analyzes King Abdullah’s shift on women’s rights.