In almost then entire world, the idea of women getting to vote and stand for elections stopped being radical many, many decades ago. But In Saudi Arabia, the whisper of revolution has only just begun.
This may even be exaggerated optimism, since it's only municipal elections, but in a country where women still can't drive or do much else without permission from their male relatives, this could be a big step. A 2011 directive allowing women to vote and run for elections comes to pass on Saturday.
Of course, the campaign process is quite complicated, since women cannot address men's rallies, and need a male representative. Photographs and television appearances aren't allowed either. So, the candidates have taken to social media, specifically Twitter and Snapchat, as campaign tools.
The video above shows one of the women candidates, Fawzeya Al-Harbi, managing her campaign. The elections for 284 council seats have 900 women registered as candidates, compared to 6000 male candidates. The video also shows a spokesman of the municipal elections explaining that the total number of women voters at 130,000 is roughly 24 per cent of the total registered voters – "a good number given it's the first time women are participating".
Elections in Saudi Arabia started only in 2005 at the late Saudi king Abdullah's behest. Women were granted the right to participate in the elections in 2011, with the King saying, "We refuse to marginalise women's role in Saudi society". King Abdullah also made way for women in the Shura, the consultative council, in 2013, appointing 30 women in the roughly 160-member body. The late king's instructions are being carried out by the new and more conservative King Salman, ignoring advice from hardline religious establishments.
While the municipal elections are limited to local issues of development and planning, women activists are hopeful of long term change.
Nassima al-Sada, an activist from Qatif in the Shia eastern province, told The Guardian, "Many people think elections are just for show because the government wants to demonstrate that there are reforms here. It doesn’t matter what the government wants. What matters is how I can use this to change things. Globalisation and social media mean the whole world is connected. Change will happen. The only question is how long it will take."