[QODLink]
Archive
Kuwait keen on women's rights
Kuwait's government, which last year sent a female suffrage bill to parliament for approval, is committed to allowing women to vote and run for political office, a minister said on Sunday.
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2005 00:10 GMT
The government is backing political rights for women
Kuwait's government, which last year sent a female suffrage bill to parliament for approval, is committed to allowing women to vote and run for political office, a minister said on Sunday.

"The government is serious about the passage of the law as soon as possible," Social Affairs and Labour Minister Faisal al-Haji told state news agency KUNA, adding the issue was discussed during Sunday's cabinet session.

"Women practice their political rights in most countries in the world, including Islamic Gulf states, even becoming ministers," said Haji, who is also acting information minister.

"Democracy will be complete only with the joining of its two wings, men and women," he said.

"Social norms should not become an obstacle barring women from attaining full political rights."

Womens' struggle

In 1999, Kuwait's Emir Shaikh Jabar al-Ahmad al-Sabah issued a decree granting women the vote but it was defeated in the 50-man parliament by an alliance of MPs.

Sabah's decree was defeated by
a group of MPs

Last May, the government referred another bill to the house but the assembly has not set a date for a debate.

Kuwaiti women serve as diplomats, run businesses, lead the humanitarian and education sectors and help steer oil and banking industries.

But they have had to watch their sisters make modest progress in other Gulf states, such as Bahrain and Qatar where they can vote and stand for election, without gaining the same rights.

Reforms

Kuwaiti officials have said pressing ahead with reforms is a priority as the oil-rich Gulf state promotes itself as a modern, investor-friendly nation.

On Wednesday, 10 liberal, independent and Shia MPs filed a motion to refer the election law to the Constitutional Court to rule on Article 1, which limits voting rights and candidacy to males above 21 years of age, Arab Times reported. 

The MPs said the law violated Kuwait's constitution which stipulates gender equality.

Women have edged closer to political participation after some Islamist MPs said last year they would support the female vote, but not moves to allow women candidates in parliamentary polls.

Haji said the government had asked parliament to debate the election draft as soon as possible, urging the house to pass it.

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Polio remains endemic in Pakistan as health workers battle anti-vaccine prejudice and threat to life by armed groups.
Despite 14-year struggle for a new mosque in the second-largest city, new roadblocks are erected at every turn.
Authorities and demonstrators have shown no inclination to yield despite growing economic damage and protest pressure.
Lebanese-born Rula Ghani may take cues from the modernising Queen Soraya, but she'll have to proceed with caution.
One of the world's last hunter-gatherer tribes has been forced from the forest it called home by a major dam project.