There is little in this world more inspiring than the tales of those who faced incredible odds, who took unprecedented steps, who were true pioneers. These two Saudi women have to rank among the bravest and most daring on the globe today.
Two candidates became the first women to win elected office in Saudi Arabia yesterday when they took seats on the board of Jeddah’s chamber of commerce.
In a country where women are generally excluded from public life the surprise result was viewed as significant. When the conservative kingdom held local government elections earlier this year – the first in more than half a century – women were not allowed to vote or run for office.
“I’m a bit in shock, but this shows people are ready for women to play a role,” Lama Sulaiman, one of the winners, told Reuters. She and fellow-businesswoman Nashwa Taher will join 10 elected men on the board, along with six other people to be appointed by the government.
Some 21,000 members of the chamber were entitled to vote, with a choice of 71 candidates – 17 of whom were women. Voting was spread over four days and, in accordance with the Saudi tradition of segregating the sexes, the first two days were reserved for female voters.
It became clear yesterday that the women, who both secured more than 1,000 votes, had been elected mainly through male support. About 100 women voted, compared with around 4,000 men.
Americans have a long history of admiration for their pioneers who ventured westward, who stepped forward for their race, who ventured into space.
Then again, a lot of our pioneers died in their endeavours, whether the victim of nature or those they openly struggled against. If I were these two, I would not worry overly much about what percentage of my check to dedicate toward retirement. Still, the wall had to be cracked, and potential sacrifices sometimes just have to be faced.
Lama Sulaiman. Nashwa Taher. Honor them and remember them, no matter what may come, as truly courageous pioneers.