Skip to comments.Kuwaiti Women Allowed to Vote, Seek Office
Posted on 04/19/2005 7:51:54 AM PDT by Wiz
KUWAIT CITY - In a major step toward granting political rights to women in Kuwait, lawmakers agreed Tuesday to permit them to vote and run in local council elections, although the measure requires more legislative action before it becomes law.
The bill passed on a 26-20 vote, with three abstentions.
A second reading and a second vote, expected in two weeks, is required. Then it needs the Kuwaiti ruler's signature, generally a formality. The emir has made it clear that he supports political rights for women.
"This is the first step. ... I hope women will run in these (municipal) elections, and we hope that the big step will be participation in parliament," said Rola Dashti, a women's rights activist.
Municipal election dates have not been set, although lawmakers have been discussing the schedule, saying they could be held within six months.
The parliamentary moves are steps toward amending Kuwait's 1962 election law to allow women to enter politics a subject of heated debate in the small Gulf emirate. The constitution gives men and women equal rights, but the election law limits the right to vote and run for office to men over 21 who are not in the police or the military.
Fundamentalists and conservative tribal leaders fear women will neglect duties of raising children and looking after husbands if they are permitted to vote and run for office. Political rights, they say, would lead to family breakdowns and children straying from Islamic teachings.
Kuwaiti women have reached high government posts, but extremists don't want them campaigning among men or receiving male voters in their offices.
Earlier this month, the Islamic Affairs Ministry ruled that Kuwait's emir, Sheik Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah, has the last word on granting women equal political rights if Muslim clerics disagree on the issue. He supports giving women the right to vote and seek office.
In 1999, Parliament quashed a women's rights decree issued by the sheik because it was signed when the legislature was not in session. Soon after, fundamentalist and tribal lawmakers narrowly defeated an identical bill.
It's Bush's fault...
This is good news -- thanks for the post.