22 women set to contest Saudi council elections

Commentators say involvement will 'strengthen women empowerment' in Gulf kingdom

(Getty Images - Photo for illustrative purpose only)

(Getty Images - Photo for illustrative purpose only)

Up to 22 women are expected to contest the Saudi municipal council elections in what commentators are saying will “strengthen women empowerment”.

The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs is expected to this month announce the new bylaw for municipal councils, which includes provisions to make municipal councils more effective, people-friendly and encourage more women into the sector, the Saudi Gazette reported.

According to the bylaw, there will be separate municipal headquarters for female members, with male and female members to interact only through telecommunications facilities.

The bylaw will also include more executive powers to the councils as well as a mechanism to evaluate the performance of the councils across the kingdom.

Under the mechanism, a maximum 100 points will be given to those councils which show outstanding performance, with a focus on interaction with people and addressing their problems, the Gazette reported.

According to the sources quoted by the daily English newspaper, the number of municipal councils in major cities and various regions of the kingdom is expected to increase to 290 by 2015, with more than 1,500 male and female members.

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