Leading women’s activist Rula Dashti said it was “really unfortunate” that women would not be lining up at the ballot boxes.

“Kuwait is at a crossroads with its development and stability and we don’t have a say in our country,” she said.

“It’s so hard not being part of a system and seeing your country in turmoil because a group of people believe we shouldn’t participate,” said Dashti.

Determination

This appears to harden the resolve of Kuwaiti women to fight despite feeling embittered with one set back after the other in the push for their enfranchisement.

“I’m seeing more women at campaign events than before. You see more women speaking than before and more acknowledgement from candidates towards women in the campaign places. You do feel there is more interest in women’s participation,” she said.

The outgoing 50-seat parliament in 1999 narrowly rejected a bill to grant women the right to vote and stand for office in parliamentary elections from 2003, as proposed by the Emir.

Activist Lulwa al-Mulla said she felt “disappointed and depressed” at the lack of progress for women, but still works closely with candidates and delivers campaign stump speeches.

“Our participation in (giving) campaign speeches is becoming very normal,” she said.

Al-Mulla accused the outgoing parliament of prioritising “trivial matters”. She said the government needed to get more serious about women’s rights.

Only 136,715 men out of the local population of 885,000 are registered to cast ballots on Saturday.