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Women Vote in Kuwait


For the first time in Kuwait’s history, women participated and voted in a parliamentary election, an historic achievement that deserves recognition. Kuwait has some three-hundred-forty-thousand eligible voters, with women making up fifty-seven percent of the electorate. Twenty-seven women were among two-hundred-fifty-two candidates. While no women were elected, Kuwaiti women’s participation in the election and their direct impact on campaign issues are noteworthy developments.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says both men and women in the Middle East deserve democracy:

“There are those who say that democracy is for men alone. In fact, the opposite is true: Half a democracy is not a democracy. As one Muslim woman leader has said, “society is like a bird. It has two wings. And a bird cannot fly if one wing is broken.”

Rola Dashti, a Kuwaiti economist, said, "We as women activists, always we are confronted by struggles. And we just have to fight."

Adnan al-Shatti, a child psychologist, told a reporter, "All the candidates," he said, "were forced to consider women's issues in their campaigns because the women now have a lot of political weight."

And Basil al-Rashid, a male candidate, said that during the election campaign he "met with women many times and asked them about their needs and what was important to them." Women, he said, "are a very important constituency."

State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli issued a statement saying, "The United States congratulates the government and people of Kuwait on [the June 29] parliamentary elections. "They are the first to include women as voters and candidates. Participation by all citizens – male and female – was robust. The turn-out demonstrates the universal value of democracy across cultures and regions."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.

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