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Women vote in Kuwait for the first time
an article by Xiao Suoze

When the polls opened in Kuwait on last Thursday, the 29th of June, Kuwaiti women voted in parliamentary elections for the first time in the country's history. Women, who won the right to vote and run for office last year, went to separate polling stations from men, choosing among 252 candidates competing for 50 parliamentary seats. Twenty-eight candidates were women.

It's been a long-standing debate in Kuwait about women's suffrage. For years, Islamists and conservative tribal members of parliament held up the efforts to give women the right to vote, the bill finally passed by 35 votes for, 23 against, with one abstention in May 2005. Election Day did not mean anything to women in Kuwait before, but now women have a say. With women making up 57 percent of Kuwait's electorate of 340,000, even fundamentalist Muslims who opposed giving them the right to vote have campaigned for their support. Candidate representatives waited for women at a polling station in the wealthy area, carrying umbrellas to shade them from the scorching 108-degree heat. They also presented them with roses and cards bearing the name of their candidate.

Even though none of the 28 women won a seat in this parliamentary election, I believe it was a big success, at least a loss lined with success. Society will need time to accept women, with persistence, they will continue and they will get there. The participation of women in the elections was "a huge step forward" for Kuwait and the region. It leaves Saudi Arabia the only Arab country that holds elections but doesn't allow women to vote now. It's encouraging to see how women in Muslim countries have gained more and more equal rights as men, although more progress needs to be made and what better time than now, to see these actions support the Culture of Peace?

An article on the elections is available on the BBC website.

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


Prospects for progress in women's equality, What are the short and long term prospects

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LATEST READER COMMENT:

The following figures, very revealing, come from the website of the American White House.

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This report was posted on July 10, 2006.