As Saudi Arabia prepares for its first municipal elections in 40 years, Nadia Bakhurji has made history in becoming the first woman to declare herself a candidate for elected office.
The 37-year-old architect’s candidacy is part of a campaign by the nation’s small suffrage movement, reported the Christian Science Monitor this week. Despite being nervous at taking on this first, Bakhurji sees it as her public duty.
“I wish there were more [women] so it wouldn’t seem so abnormal,” she told the Monitor. “I’m a patriotic woman who just wants to serve my community and my country.”
The elections will occur next spring for half the seats in 178 municipal councils, as part of the government’s efforts to introduce political reforms into the absolute monarchy of the Al Saud family. However, it is unknown whether Bakhurji’s candidacy will be officially allowed or if women will be able to vote in the upcoming election. Municipal bylaws issued last month didn’t explicitly ban women from participating in the elections, but they also didn’t encourage it. The issue may be resolved in December, when the government publishes the voter registration lists.
Bakhurji said that she will drop her candidacy if the Saudi government doesn’t grant women the right to vote.
The Department of Labor confirmed this week what most women with paid employment have always suspected–that the household’s unpaid labor still remains split along gender lines.
The new survey, called the American Time Use Survey, was released on Tuesday and revealed that working women spend more time looking after the house, family and children than working men.
Though almost as many women as men hold jobs–78 percent of women compared with 85 percent of men–the Labor Department reported that over half of all women said they did housework and almost two-thirds prepared meals on an average day, compared with only 19 percent of men who said they did housework and 34 percent who said they helped with meals or cleanup.
The study also indicates that the average working woman spends about twice as much time as the average working man on child care and household chores, while men spend more time both at their jobs and on leisure and sports.
These were just some of the survey’s results, which also asked 21,000 people to record how much time they spent on things such as leisure and sports, watching TV, and attending classes in a 24-hour period. This study is the first in a new program to measure trends in how Americans spend their time on and off the job and to see how people fit work into their lives.
— Juhie Bhatia.