Hope renewed: Kuwaiti women take their place

I have a confession to make: Kuwaiti women have renewed my hope in the Arab world, especially when it comes to the issue of Arab women’s rights. Kuwaiti women fought for years until they finally got the right to vote and run for parliament. It was today that we saw this materialize, as elections took place with the participation of female candidates for the very first time in the history of the Gulf emirate. The reason I’m so enchanted by this major step is because it is positive development amidst the plethora of heart-wrenching regional news.

The Washington Post ran a profile today of Kuwaiti female parliament candidate Rola Dashti. It is worth a read. In addition, Mona Eltahway wrote an article on this important development for the New York Daily News. Here is an excerpt:

Whether Kuwaiti women win any seats or not, they can rest assured that not only have they made history, but they are chipping away at the excuses that for too long have held back their sisters in Saudi Arabia, the regional powerhouse. Last year, Saudi women were denied the right to take part in their country’s first nationwide elections. Advocates of women’s rights there will surely seize on the sight of women in neighboring Kuwait voting and running for office to strengthen their own case for getting to vote in the 2009 Saudi elections. It is a big step in the right direction.

Indeed it is a big step and a very inspiring one as well.

7 thoughts on “Hope renewed: Kuwaiti women take their place”

  1. Although I salute the move. I have doubts regarding who and why was the move made in the gulf state
    I just can’t recall seeing a single piece of news about female demonstrating or making demands to be given their rights and rather sounds like it’s been an Amiri decree
    Regardless of the reasons, people everywhere in the world need to understand and value diversity in all aspects, not only Parliaments.
    I work in the Software industry and we suffer from lack of interest of women in this interest. If you look at any piece of software, you can feel that it’s quite hostile to women. Not by intention but rather because the men behind it just can’t cater for every segment. The reason I gave this example is simply to show that Diversity help create better software, better cars, better societies. We just can’t take a single point of view and consider it the norm. Someone needs to let people know what they’re overlooking because they’re don’t understand it
    Best of luck for the Kuwaiti women, and hopefully other societies would follow

  2. Qwider, I work in software industry as well, and we have women as much as men working togather in our company. I have no idea why women seem more interested in quality assurance work rather than development althought we have increasing number of women as developers of software.

    Anyway, thx Natasha for the news. This is really a big achievement for women in kwait. Hope they succeed in winning seats in the parliament. I hope that Jordanian women can gain more power and get more seats in our parliament next election as well.

  3. Actually there were lots of demonstrations leading up to women being given the franchise, but you’re right, it was also pushed through Parliament by the late emir, who hoped to shake up the system.

  4. GIs may have planned Iraq rape, slayings

    By RYAN LENZ, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 11 minutes ago

    Investigators believe a group of U.S. soldiers suspected of raping an Iraqi woman, then killing her and three members of her family plotted the attack for nearly a week, a U.S. military official said Saturday.

    Up to five soldiers are being investigated in the March killings, the fifth pending case involving alleged slayings of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops. The Americans entered the Sunni Arab’s family home, separated three males from the woman, raped her and burned her body using a flammable liquid in a cover-up attempt, a military official close to the investigation said. The three males were also slain.

    The soldiers had studied their victims for about a week and the attack was “totally premeditated,” the official said on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. The family had just moved into the home in the insurgent-riddled area around Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad.

    The U.S. military issued a terse statement about the killings Friday, saying only that Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, ordered a criminal investigation into the alleged slaying of a family of four in Mahmoudiya. U.S. officials said they knew of the deaths but thought the victims were killed in sectarian violence. But Mahmoudiya police Capt. Ihsan Abdul-Rahman said Iraqi officials received a report on March 13 alleging that American soldiers had killed the family in the Khasir Abyad area, about 6 miles north of Mahmoudiya.

    There were some discrepancies over how many soldiers were being investigated. The U.S. military official said it was at least four. Two other U.S. officials said Friday that five were under investigation but one already had been discharged for unspecified charges unrelated to the killings and was believed to be in the United States. The four still in the Army have had their weapons taken away and were confined to a U.S. base near Mahmoudiya, officials said. If convicted of premeditated murder, the soldiers could receive a death sentence under U.S. military law.

    The suspects were from the 502nd Infantry Regiment and belonged to the same platoon as two soldiers kidnapped and killed south of Baghdad this month, another official close to the investigation said Friday. The soldiers’ mutilated bodies were found June 19, three days after they were abducted by insurgents near Youssifiyah southwest of Baghdad.

    The military has said one and possibly both of the slain soldiers were tortured and beheaded. The official said the mutilation of the slain soldiers stirred feelings of guilt and led at least one member of the platoon to reveal the rape-slaying on June 22. One soldier was arrested after admitting his role in the alleged attack on the family, the official said on condition of anonymity because the case was under way. The official said the rape and killings appeared to have been a “crime of opportunity,” noting that the soldiers had not been attacked by insurgents but had noticed the woman on previous patrols.

    One of the family members they allegedly killed was a child, said a senior Army official who also requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. The senior official said the alleged incident was first revealed by a soldier during a routine counseling-type session. The official said that soldier did not witness the incident but heard about it.

    A second soldier, who also was not involved, said he overhead soldiers conspiring to commit the crimes and then later saw bloodstains on their clothes, the official said. The allegations of rape could generate a particularly strong backlash in Iraq, a conservative, strongly religious society in which many women will not even shake hands with men who are not close relatives.

    The case is among the most serious against U.S. soldiers allegedly involved in the deaths of Iraqi civilians. At least 14 U.S. troops have been convicted. Last week, seven Marines and one Navy medic were charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of an Iraqi man near Fallujah west of Baghdad.

    U.S. officials are also investigating allegations that U.S. Marines killed two dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians Nov. 19 in the western town of Haditha in a revenge attack after a fellow Marine died in a roadside bombing. Other cases involve the deaths of three male detainees in Salahuddin province in May, the shooting death of an unarmed Iraqi man near Ramadi in February and the death of an Iraqi soldier after an interrogation at a detention camp in Qaim in 2003.


    AP correspondent Ryan Lenz is embedded with the 101st Airborne Division in Beiji, Iraq. He was previously embedded with the 502nd Infantry Regiment in Mahmoudiya. AP correspondent Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.

  5. 500 women!? You do realize that more people show up to a school soccer match!
    This is not “snatched” their rights from the evil men. They were given (what’s rightfully theirs) back!

    Not to say that it wasn’t a struggle or downplay their activities. But 500 women don’t represent the society (and knowing the Arab media that number is probably inflated)

    Anyway, I’m glad women got their rights. We really need more diversity in parliaments. And the Amazing role that people like Tojan Faisal has done in showing that women are capable of dealing with these duties maybe better than many men

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