Saudi Women To Vote, Run For Office

Manal al-Sharif, Saudi activist, July 2011
In May 2011, Saudi activist Manal al-Sharif (pictured here) was arrested for driving. Her arrest sparked a campaign as dozens of women defied the driving ban.

History was made in Saudi Arabia last week when King Abdullah announced that starting in 2015, Saudi Arabian women will be able to vote and to run for office.

It is a big step in a country that does not grant women equal rights to those enjoyed by men.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world in which women are banned from driving an automobile.

Last July a woman, identified only as Shema (not pictured here), was found guilty of driving and sentenced to 10 lashes.

(Many women defy the ban by driving in spite of the fact it is not legal in the country. By driving, they are protesting what they feel is an unfair rule.)

Last week, the king surprised the country by stopping the punishment for Shema. She will not have to endure any lashes.

Two other women are due in court on similar charges later this year.

In Saudi Arabia religion plays a large part in political decisions. A woman cannot get a driver’s license and must have written approval from a father, husband, brother or son to leave the country, work or even have certain medical procedures.

But in the last few years, King Abdullah has shown he believes in more equality for women as long their actions do not break any religious rules. For example, he built a new university for women and men together and he has encouraged women to work outside the home.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Why is it important that within a country all men and women be treated equally? What are the dangers of treating men and women unequally?

Reading Prompt
With a classmate, teacher, or parent, describe how you felt as you read today’s article. Be sure to explain why you felt the way you did.

Express personal opinions about ideas presented in texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Make judgments and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence
from the texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Grammar Feature: Proper Nouns
A proper noun is the specific name of a person, place or thing (noun). Proper nouns are always capitalized unlike other nouns. For example, the words “city” and “teacher” are nouns that are not capitalized because they do not name a specific place or person. On the other hand, when writing nouns like, “New York,” “Europe,” “Prime Minister Harper,” and “Dr. Roberta Bondar” the first letters are always capitalized because they are the specific names of places or people.

Underline all of the proper nouns in today’s article.