The year was 2009 when I first visited Saudi Arabia. The purpose of my trip was spiritual hence it was during Ramadan. My stay lasted over a month and it gave me the opportunity to see and feel the culture of Saudi Arabia from a raw perspective too. It also gave me the opportunity to interact with Saudi women on different aspects. One of the many things that I can say I walked away with from my experience with Saudi women: they are women of fortitude.
Taking into account a few things, it's to no surprise for me to hear about Saudi Arabia's first female candidates running for office. It's only natural, a balance and healthy for a country to be inclusive of the voices from all its citizens in decision making to better serve the country and the needs of its people. But, of course not all changes come with ease, and that is ok, because it makes change that much more meaningful.
In a documentary film, The New York Times' Journalist Mona El-Naggar takes us inside the kingdom and introduces us to three proud and dynamic women, each determined to test the bounds of her society in different ways. The setting is a city council election in Riyadh, where in 2015 Saudi women were allowed to vote and run for office for the first time. While they could finally participate, though, they could not actually campaign in public. "Ladies First" offers a riveting and intimate view of the complex and largely inaccessible world of Saudi women, chronicling this remarkable first effort of women to claim a place on the political stage of their nation.
Written by Mariana Aguilera