AFP lead A Saudi woman casts her ballot in an election centre in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, on December 12, 2015. Saudi women were allowed to vote in elections for the first time ever, in a tentative step towards easing widespread sex discrimination in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom. AFP PHOTO / DINA FOUAD Image Credit: AFP

Paris: From the late 19th to the early 21st century, the right to vote has been a long struggle for women.

Saudis join the rest of the world on Saturday, leaving only Brunei, where neither men nor women hold this fundamental right.

Here is a look back:


New Zealand blazes the way, extending the right to vote to women following a petition signed by about one quarter of the country’s adult female population. They must wait until 1919, however, to run for office as well.

Australia follows in 1902, but aborigines of both sexes remain excluded until 1962.


Finnish women are the first in the world to be able to vote and run for office.

Scandinavian neighbours follow suit, beginning with Norway in 1913 and ending with Sweden in 1919.


Germany and Russia join the movement, and it starts to gain traction.


Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United States get with the programme, though on a state level in the US, Wyoming women could already vote in 1869 and their counterparts in Colorado in 1893.


While Britain granted the right to vote to women aged 30 and older in 1918, its full extension did not come until 10 years later.

British suffragettes had launched their battle in 1903.


Turkey is the first Muslim country excluding Soviet republics to open the door to women, an initiative of secular leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.


France, the nation of human rights, grants women the right to vote nearly a century after men obtain it.


Switzerland allows women to vote in federal elections, but the last canton to follow suit does so only in 1990.


Poland extends the right to all women. Prior to that, women with university degrees had been allowed to vote since 1931.


Moldova becomes the last country in Europe to grant women their full civic rights.


South Africa extends the right to women of all colour. White women have voted since 1930 and mixed-race women since 1984.


Women in Gulf states join the others, with Oman making the step in 1994, Qatar in 1999, Bahrain in 2001 and Kuwait in 2005.

In 2006, rulers of the United Arab Emirates allow 6,000 men and women to vote.

In October, the list included 224,000 people, about one quarter of the total UAE population of just under one million.


Saudi women vote and run for office for the first time, a decision taken in 2011 by the now late King Abdullah.