First Published: 2005-04-19

Kuwaiti women set to vote in municipal polls

Lawmakers approve in principle law giving Kuwaiti women right to vote, stand for municipal elections.


Middle East Online

The step will broaden popular political participation in Kuwait

KUWAIT CITY - Kuwaiti lawmakers on Tuesday approved in principle a law giving women in the conservative emirate the right for the first time to vote and stand in October's municipal council elections.

A second and final round of voting will take place in two weeks time. If passed, the legislation will be the first of its kind to give Kuwaiti women any political rights.

Those who voted in favour included 13 cabinet ministers present during Tuesday's session, as well as liberal and Shiite MPs. All tribal Islamist lawmakers, who are staunchly opposed to women's rights, voted against the bill.

The bill was passed by 26 votes while 20 MPs cast their ballots against and three abstained.

"This is the first step towards women's full political rights," Rula Dashti, chairwoman of the Kuwait Economic Society, told reporters after the vote.

Pro-women MP Ahmed al-Mulaifi said, "this step will broaden popular political participation in Kuwait."

The municipal council, whose powers are mainly organisational, is a civic body in which 10 of its members are elected while the remaining six are appointed by the emir. It is elected every four years.

Islamist MPs and their tribal allies have been campaigning against women's suffrage on the grounds that Islamic teachings bar women from participating in political life.

Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah favors giving women the vote. In 1999, he issued a decree granting women full political rights but it was narrowly rejected by parliament the same year.

Independent Al-Shall think tank said on March 12 that proposals to enfranchise Kuwaiti women and lower the voting age to 18 would triple the number of voters in the emirate, who currently make up 15 percent of the native population of 956,000.


Iraq forces fight to tighten noose around Mosul

In Syria, Kurds restore ancient names to Arabised towns

UN call to extend Yemen truce falls on deaf ears

Turkey reports over 35,000 people in detention after coup attempt

In violation of constitution, Iraq parliament votes to ban alcohol

Turkey hits Kurdish group in Syria again

Kremlin aims to 'liberate' Syria with Assad in power

Egypt court upholds 20-year sentence for Morsi

Turkey PM warns EU: Turkey has alternatives!

Battles rage in Yemen despite three-day truce

For second day, Iraq forces clash with ISIS in Kirkuk

New report accuses Syria of chemical attack in Qmenas village

Islamic Jihad stages show of force in Gaza

UN says 'crimes' in Aleppo are 'of historic proportions'

IS sniper kills Iraqi journalist in Kirkuk

US official says coalition should target IS in Raqa after Mosul

Moscow extends Aleppo ceasefire

Italy PM says officials should have voted against UNESCO Jerusalem resolution

Syrian ‘Toy Smuggler’ accused of fraud

UN: IS may use civilians as human shields in Mosul

Armed men attack refugee boat off Libya

US says will work with Turkey to deal IS 'lasting defeat'

Moscow ‘highly concerned’ at jihadists’ refusal to leave Aleppo

Four Palestinians arrested by their security forces for settlement visit

Mauritania president says no change to two-term limit

UN delays Aleppo evacuations due to lack of security assurances

Oman denies reports of arms smuggling to Yemen

Israel looking to buy three more German submarines

83 migrants rescued off Cyprus

Under pressure in Mosul, IS fighters attack Kirkuk

Air strikes hit Yemen rebels despite ceasefire

US officials: Iran boosting arms sales to Huthis via Oman

Iraq forces make gains against IS near Mosul

Arab coalition accuses Yemen rebels of breaching truce

Italian PM blocks EU sanctions threat against Russia over Aleppo

Pentagon chief in Turkey for talks on tensions with Iraq

Israeli occupation troops kill Palestinian teenager

Iraqis flee IS-held Mosul for war-torn Syria

Five years after his death, Kadhafi's 'Green Book' is ridiculed in Libya

Iraq issues warrant for former governor of Mosul

EU leaders threaten sanctions against Assad allies

Syria army urges residents to evacuate Aleppo during ceasefire

British warships shadow Syria-bound Russian naval force

Turkey unexpectedly keeps interest rate steady

British PM urges united EU response to Russia over Syria 'atrocities'