By Humood Abu Talib
Oct 17, 2015
I would like to extend my thanks to the spokesman for the municipal elections and the chairman of the higher committee for stressing that all candidates, male and female, will be treated equally. This clearly reflects justice and equality when it comes to the rights of candidates. But all this will have been in vain if the committee of municipal elections prevents female candidates from interacting directly with male voters. I think that this is what has happened and Al-Watan daily recently carried a report testifying to this.
The municipal committee banned female candidates from talking to male voters and asked those candidates to appoint male representatives to do that. They even banned female candidates from entering men’s sections inside the venues where municipal campaigns were launched. Furthermore, female candidates are not allowed to post their pictures in public places and those who do so will be fined SR10,000.
I would like to draw the spokesman’s attention to the fact that pictures of women can be found on the pages of daily newspapers and on TV. Moreover, Saudi women give lectures and presentations at conferences, forums and universities around the world. Female candidates are not teenagers who want to show off their beauty to others; they are respectable adult women.
If we were to ignore the comment about posting women’s pictures on walls or in public places, how can the spokesman explain the reasons behind banning female candidates from talking to male voters? What is the logic behind that decision? Has the spokesman not heard about the importance of persuasion and communication? Only female candidates can convince male voters to vote for them. Male representatives cannot do that in the same way as the candidates themselves can.
This condition means that the female candidate loses an important tool in influencing voters. How is she going to interact with voters and answer their questions? What is wrong if her husband, brother, or father accompanies her when she explains her program to voters?
There is a stark contradiction in the spokesman’s statements. On one occasion, he said that all candidates would be treated equally and on another he imposed stringent conditions on women and marginalized them. I confirm that I will not vote for any female candidate because of these conditions.