Two women first ever to serve on municipal council in Kuwait

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Location of Kuwait

Location of Kuwait

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Monday, June 6, 2005

Following elections in the country of Kuwait on June 2, two women were appointed for the first time ever to the Kuwaiti municipal council. This follows a historic decision on May 16 that granted Kuwaiti women the right to vote and run for public office in future elections.

The Kuwaiti Minster of Social Affairs, Faysal al-Hajji, said that "During its weekly meeting on Sunday, the cabinet named two women to the municipal council for the first time in the history of Kuwait." The women are:

  • Sheikha Fatima al-Sabah, architect and member of the Al-Sabah ruling family
  • Fawziya al-Bahar, engineer.

The positive developments in Kuwaiti politics have been praised by many feminists and foreign observers.

The decision to grant women the vote overcame strong resistance to pass by a 35-23 margin. The only remaining Middle Eastern country that does not grant women the right to vote is Saudi Arabia.

The sixteen members of the council are divided between ten members who are elected by popular vote, and six who are appointed. The ten elected members were all male and mostly conservative. The six appointees were the two women and four men considered to be liberals. The election and appointment results still need to be ratified by the Emir, who has been supportive of the efforts to give women the right to vote.

Although women were not eligible to run for elective office during the most recent election, they are expected to vote and run for office in Kuwait for the first time ever beginning in the 2007 parliamentary elections.