binders full of women

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Appoints More Women Than Obama

Photo: JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images

While President Obama takes an encouraging amount of heat for failing to appoint any women to his cabinet — yet, WH Press Secretary Jay Carney has repeatedly stressed — Saudia Arabia’s octogenarian King Abdullah has appointed 30 women to the legislative Shura Council. Previously all male, a decree reconstituting the council stated that women should always hold at least one fifth of its 150 seats, all of which are appointed by the king. Obama, of course, has a better record overall than the leader of a strict Islamic monarchy: About 43 percent of his appointments have been women, according to the New York Times. But isn’t the daily female appointee watch fun?

The new female Shura Council members have never even voted. In 2011, King Abdullah ruled for the first time that women could vote and run for office in municipal elections in 2015. They will need a ride to the polls, however, as women are forbidden from driving and can’t travel without a male guardian. (Their male guardians will still get a text message alerting them anytime they cross a border.) As for how they’ll get around the laws banning mixing with non-relative men, the council building is adding special gates for the women to enter and leave by. They will have a separate seating area and there’s talk of some kind of screen/messenger system. Sounds complicated.

King Abdullah Appoints More Women Than Obama