U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the Senate's passage of their resolution encouraging the government of Saudi Arabia to allow women to vote and run for elective office in the upcoming September municipal elections. The resolution passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Friday.
"Saudi Arabia's ban on women voting and running for office stands in stark contrast to the commitments the government has made to ensuring the rights and equality of women," Senator Boxer said. "This resolution calls on the Saudi government to fulfill their promise and allow for the full political participation of women in elections."
"The Saudi government has not lived up to their promises to extend the most basic human rights to nearly half of their population. Men and women across the Middle East should be afforded equal rights and freedoms. I encourage the Saudi Arabian government to make good on their commitments and allow women to vote in September," Senator DeMint said.
Despite previous commitments by the Saudi government to allow women full participation in the political process, the government has continued to disenfranchise women when it comes time to vote. This resolution highlights these commitments made by the Saudi government and calls upon the government to allow women to vote and run for office in the upcoming September 29th election, the first municipal elections since 2005.
In 2009, the Saudi government ratified the Arab Charter on Human Rights which states, "Every citizen has the right to stand for election or choose his representatives in free and impartial elections." The government has also accepted recommendations put forward by the United Nations Human Rights Council to "[a]bolish all legislation, measures and practices that discriminate against women In particular, to abolish legislation and practices which prevent women from participating fully in society on an equal basis with men." Additionally, in 2010, Saudi Arabia was elected to the Executive Board of UN Women, emphasizing the government's commitment to women's rights.
In addition to Senators Boxer and DeMint, the resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Barrasso (R-WY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).