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A symposium titled “Women Involvement in Majlis Al-Shoura and Municipal Councils in Light of King Abdullah’s Decisions” was held in late December, with King Saud University males and females attending the two-day event held approximately three months after King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run for municipal office, effective 2015.

Saudi Arabia's Majlis Al-Shura, also known as the Shoura Council, is an advisory body consisting of a speaker and 150 members, some elected and some appointed by the King for four-year terms. Members have the right to introduce laws for the King’s consideration.

In the symposium’s first day, the opening session, titled Regulation of the Shoura and Municipal Councils: Concepts of Political Participation, featured:

  • Dr. Ibrahim Al-Qaeed, CEO of Dar Al Marefa Co. and former member of Riyadh Municipal council;
  • Dr. Fahd bin Hamoud Al-Anazi, Shoura Council member and Dean of KSU's College of Law and Political Science;
  • Dr. Wafa Mahmoud Taibah, a KSU professor in Educational Psychology and Shoura Council consultant; and
  • Dr. Fawziya Abu Khaled, prominent Saudi poetess.

Among the many topics addressed were women’s involvement in the Saudi Shoura, the media’s various areas of impact regarding the involvement of Saudi women, public opinion and obstacles confronting women’s political involvement in Saudi Arabia.

In the day’s second session, titled Features of Active Women's Involvement in the Shoura and Municipal Councils, included a panel with:

  • Dr. Fawziya Al-Baker of the College of Education;
  • Dr. Noura Al Adwan, Shoura Council consultant and supervisor for the Abdulrahman Al Rajhi and Family Foundation Chair for the Role of Saudi Women in Developing Society; and
  • Dr. Moudy Bint Mohammed Al-Dghaither of KSU's Psychology Department.

On the second day, additional themes were explored such as The role of community and institutions in supporting women's involvement in Shoura and Municipal Councils. Dr. Lana Bin Said, a KSU professor of social studies and social work, moderated a discussion involving the following guests:

  • Dr. Wasmia Al-Mansour, KSU Arabic Language Department;
  • Dr. Wafa Almobaireek, Vice Dean of Development and professor of marketing at KSU; and
  • Dr. Nadia Al-Masry and Fatima Al-Said of the KSU Social Studies Department.

The symposium’s final theme, titled “Women's Membership in the Shoura and Municipal Councils: Challenges and Proposals, was explored by:

  • Dr. Aziza Al-Manea, Professor of Education Fundamentals at KSU and Academic Consultant;
  • Dr. Wedad Al-Qahtani of the KSU Arabic Language Department; and
  • Sana’a Al-Otaibi of KSU's Social Studies Department.

Upon the completion of the symposium's discussions, recommendations and proposals were drafted by program officials, and will be further explored. It is hoped that the ideas generated from this symposium will contribute to the  evolving role of Saudi women in their nation's society and governance.

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