At least five Saudi women win seats on local municipal councils a day after women voted and ran in elections for the first time in the country’s history, according to initial results released Sunday.
The five women hail from vastly different parts of the country, ranging from Saudi Arabia’s second largest and most cosmopolitan city to a small village near Islam’s holiest sites.
Though not many women are expected to win seats, even limited gains are seen as a step forward for women who had previously been completely shut out of elections.
The mayor of Mecca, Osama al-Bar, tells The Associated Press that candidate Salma al-Oteibi won in a village called Madrakah, about 93 miles (150 kilometers) north of the city which houses the cube-shaped Kaaba to which Muslims around the world pray.
Al-Bar also confirms through election officials in Saudi Arabia’s second largest city of Jiddah that another female candidate, Lama al-Suleiman, had won a seat there.
The official Saudi Press Agency, meanwhile, quoted the head of the election committee in the northern region of al-Jawf as saying that female candidate Hinuwf al-Hazmi won along with 13 men in that district. The news agency also reported that Mona el-Emery and Fadhila al-Attawy had won in the northwestern region of Tabuk.
Overall results from the capital Riyadh and other major regions were expected to be announced Sunday by the General Election Commission.