Today is a historic day in Kuwait and throughout the middle East. Four women of various backgrounds were elected M.P.s of the Kuwait’s Parliament. The women, some running against popular Islamists, won with convincing pluralities. Women voters, 54.3% of the population but only enfranchised in 2005, may have made the difference.
The four women were liberals, none supported by an established political party. There are no established Kuwaiti political parties. According to the article in Al Jazeera:
candidates belong to either a political group, a tribe or they run independently.
The two mainstream Sunni groups, the Islamic Salafi Alliance and the Islamic Constitutional Movement, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, were dealt a heavy blow, winning three seats compared to the seven they held in the previous parliament.
The elected women are all educated in the U.S. and hold PhD. degrees. From the article:
Massuma al-Mubarak, one of the four women elected, was first by a large margin among the 10 top positions elected to the parliament from her district.
She also became the country’s first female cabinet minister.
Earlier a fatwa was issued byFuhaid al-Hailam, of the Salafi Islamist movement,stating that women entering parliament was a sin as it would progress to their influence on government. From Al-Arabiya:
“They have nothing to say,” she told Al Arabiya. “Kuwaiti laws that gave women the right to run for parliament are not against Islamic laws.”Woman’s rights activist Fatima al-Abdeli ran in the two previous elections
Abdeli called upon the Kuwaiti government to declare the movement’s statements void and said that female candidates intend to organize a press conference to respond to the fatwa.
“This fatwa will harm women candidates and the Kuwaiti people might be deceived by it. We are not going to stand still while this happens. Women should not be told what to do,” said Abdeli.
For further analysis of Kuwait’s elections read here.