A Saudi woman casts her ballot in a polling station in the coastal city of Jeddah, on December 12, 2015. © STR

Seventeen women have won seats in municipal councils in Saudi Arabia as the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom allowed females to vote and run as candidates for the first time in history in an election on Saturday.

It was also only the third ever election in Saudi Arabia. Just men participated in the 2005 and 2011 polls.

Sabq.org, a news website affiliated with Saudi Interior Ministry, was first to report that the 17 had successfully been elected across the kingdom.

More than 900 women ran against 6,000 men for spots on the country’s 284 municipal councils.

The development is viewed as historic for Saudi Arabia where women have fewer rights than men, being forbidden to drive cars and making major life decisions without consent from male relatives, among other restrictions.“I deeply believe in the importance of voting in order to be part of my country’s drive to empower women and elevate their status. The turnout was good and the voting proceeded smoothly. I personally voted based on the candidates’ programs and plans,” one of the female first-time votes told Gulf News.

READ MORE: Saudi women run & vote in election for the first time

However, the election was only for two thirds of municipal council seats which have no legislative or national powers but are rather limited to local affairs.

The turnout was also quite low, with just 25 per cent of the voters casting ballots due to election still being a new thing for the Saudis.

Salma bint Hazab al-Otaibi, who won a seat in the Madrika district of Mecca, was hailed as first woman councilor in Saudi Arabia on social media.

RT full article