Kuwait appoints women to council

The government of Kuwait has named two women to join its municipal council in the first appointment of its kind for the oil-rich Gulf emirate.

    Kuwaiti women achieved full political rights on 16 May

    Kuwaiti Social Affairs Minister Faisal al-Hajji told journalists that the cabinet had approved the appointment of two women "for the first time in the history of Kuwait".

    The move comes less than a month after women were granted full political rights.
    Shaikha Fatima Nasir al-Sabah - a member of the ruling family and a qualified engineer - and Fawziya al-Bahar are to join 14 others named by Prime Minister Shaikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah on Monday.
    "I never dreamed of being a member in the council. I am very proud to be the first Kuwaiti woman to be appointed in the municipal council," Shaikha Fatima said.
    "I hope I will be able to serve my country Kuwait. Although the council is technical and deals with planning matters, I will try to promote the cause of Kuwaiti women wherever possible," she added.
    Changing times

    "I never dreamed of being a member in the council"

    Shaikha Fatima,
    council member-designate

    The decision marks a small step in a slow process of reform under way in the deeply conservative oil-rich Gulf Arab monarchies.

    The local media had reported after the 2 June vote that the government intended to appoint up to three women to the council, to manage civic planning, monitoring some public services and restaurants, roads and civil construction.
    Women will make their election debut in the 2007 legislative elections and are to vote in and contest the next municipal polls in 2009, after parliament voted on 16 May to grant them full political rights.
    Five women - a journalist, a writer, two women's rights activists and an academic - have said they plan to contest the parliamentary elections, with an estimated 200,000 women expected to register as eligible voters next February.



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