A man in the office said to us, "It’s great that you came."
Nuha was one of the women who went to the registration office in Riyad to demand that her name be put on the electoral register. An active online promoter of Saudi women's rights, she is the creator the Facebook group "Saudi Women Revolution
We organised this initiative using Twitter and Facebook
. We all expected the officers to refuse, but the reactions were different in different towns. In Khobar, two women were so insistent that they successfully convinced the men to let them write their names down on the register even if, of course, several days later the registration centre informed them that their registration had no value whatsoever. In contrast, in another registration centre, the group of women was broken up by the police and two women spent several hours at the police station.
"The problem is not a lack of preparation; the authorities have had six years to organize these elections"
It is ridiculous that the authorities pretend that they are not ready. During the 2005 elections, they promised us that we would be able to vote in the next elections. The problem is clearly not a lack of preparation; the authorities have had six years to organize these elections. According to officials, it is complicated to arrange elections in a country where men and women are not supposed to mix with each other. This is an absurd argument as elections take place in schools, buildings which already separate boys from girls.
When we were at the centre, we insisted on the fact that there is no law which states that we cannot vote [Saudi electoral law grants “all citizens” the right to vote, ed.]. It is exactly the same case for the driving ban. These bans have become the norm but when you ask which law prevents you from doing this or that, we always get the same response: “We’ll discuss it later”.
"We’re not even asking for total equality between the sexes"
Today we are hoping to obtain basic rights which will mean that we are no longer treated like children. For the moment, we are not asking for total equality between the sexes. All we want is the right to vote, the right to move around freely, and the end of the masculine guardian system (a system which places women, from birth, under the legal authority of a man).
At the end of the 1950s, King Faycal decided to set up schools for girls, even though a lot of people were against it. He did it because he knew that it was the right thing to do. One can’t imagine such a gesture happening today. It’s a shame because the county is ready for change. My husband and the men in my family all support me. Even the man that you can see in the video was friendly. He was certainly surprised but he finished by saying: “It’s great that you came. We don’t understand why the government doesn’t move forward.”