'Kuwaiti women won the right to enter politics'

DUBAI - Kuwaiti women are determined. Even stubborn. They are women who have fought and won. Right from year 1971, they have been struggling to force an amendment to the law that would give them the right to actively participate in politics. And today they have won that right!

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Wed 1 Jun 2005, 12:18 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 3:55 PM

"Yes, at last they have managed to win that right," said Dr Masouma Al Mubarak, professor of Political Science at Kuwait University, at a seminar held yesterday at the Dubai Press Club to felicitate Kuwaiti women for their success.

The law was amended on May 16. Kuwaiti women have now the right to vote, and the right to get elected to the Kuwaiti Parliament.

Al Mubarak said that the amendment was a great victory for Kuwaiti women. Now they were at par with the men, with their names listed in the voting process. Now, they too could take part in the decision-making process in Kuwait.

"The time has come for Kuwaiti women to be part of political life and be part of the decision-making process in Kuwaiti society. Qatar and Bahrain are having a pioneering experience with the election of women to Parliament. We hope we will also witness similar success and play a significant role. Right since 1971 men who are Members of the Parliament have been very supportive and were always recommending the amendment of the voting right law in order to give Kuwaiti women a chance to vote and prove themselves."

Al Mubarak said patience, a strong will, persistence and determination in Kuwaiti women were key factors that contributed to the amendment. "The law was amended despite the objection of some Parliament members. We managed to win because while 35 members approved the amendment, only 25 were opposed to it. Gone are the days when Kuwaiti women were inferior, weak and unable to take any decisions. Now Kuwaiti women can stand shoulder to shoulder with the men and take active part in the political process."

The constitution in Kuwait stipulates the existence of a democratic system which gives women the right to benefits and have been given the same rights as men. The first ever Press conference that was held in Kuwait succeed in highlighting the political role that women should play and was also attended by women from AGCC countries who highlighted the role of women in development.

The participants raised crucial issues and urged the need for involvement of women in politics: Of course, the male members of Parliament who opposed the amendment did try to keep women out of the political process with the argument that women have no right to rule. They even put an article in the amended law stipulating that women must abide by Islamic morals. The question is: Should only women abide by Islamic morals, not the men? If that means 'woman's appearance', that she should always be seen with a veil and in the traditional Kuwaiti black dress, then this was totally unacceptable as it was a personal matter. According to the law, an elected Member of Parliament must be a Kuwaiti national who can fluently speak and write Arabic. The law does not anywhere mention an obligation to wear the Hijab.

Mona Al Ayaaf, women's rights advocate and Director of Media at the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, praised the significant role of Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, Kuwait Prime Minister, and the other Kuwaiti men who had insisted on giving women the same rights as men.

"Democracy is an attitude that should start within the family and school. The school curricula should be changed and students should be taught to respect all opinions. Women must be liberated by all means and there should be awareness campaigns to support the Kuwaiti woman in her new role. The content in the school books should not only highlight the significant role played by men in society but also that played by women."

Abdul Wahab Haroun, a Kuwaiti parliamentarian, said that men were always the only ones who got elected as Members of Parliament despite the fact the Constitution does not differentiate between men and women, and that both of them have same rights.

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