We at the Lantos Foundation are encouraged to see that the veil covering women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is being lifted by a few inches. However, we must temper our enthusiasm until we see significant further reforms indicating that this development is in fact a small first step on a necessary journey to transform Saudi society from one that denies human rights, to one that respects and protects fundamental rights for all in the Saudi Kingdom.
We hope that some women candidates prevail in this weekend’s election so that women may begin to have a voice in bringing about the greater changes that are needed to ensure the full equality of women and men in Saudi society. This election must not be just a symbolic gesture, and if female candidates are elected they must have an equal voice with men in any office they might hold.
Change may be slow, but it must be consistent and steady. We at the Lantos Foundation will be paying attention. We hope that reforms continue apace, but if they are mere window dressing, a vigilant community of human rights defenders will let the world know.