Women's suffrage in Kuwait

The country's first-ever female political candidates registered today.

Published May 25, 2006 7:53PM (EDT)

Don't you think that whenever a country finally gets around to granting women full political participation, we should stage a little fireworks display commemorating the occasion? Sure, women's suffrage should be a given, requiring no such fanfare -- but since there are still countries where that's not the case, a little fanfare seems in order.

While I work on the budgeting and permits for that, here's some written commemoration of an important milestone in women's lib: Kuwaiti women are at last able to vote and run for office in the upcoming election, and the country's first-ever female candidates for political office registered their candidacies today. The decision to grant women the vote actually came down about a year ago, when a parliamentary vote overturned the long-standing ban on women's voting. (As the BBC notes, "Women have been denied full political rights in Kuwait since the foundation of parliament in 1962.") Some women have voted in recent local elections, but women weren't slated to be able to vote in parliamentary elections until 2007 -- but then the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah, dissolved the Parliament to settle an unrelated election-reform dispute, and now men and women will be voting in a legislative election on June 29.

Five women -- a women's rights activist, a journalist, a public-health Ph.D., a college professor and a writer -- have registered their intent to run so far. And, Agence France-Presse reports, "More women are expected to lodge their candidacies before registration expires on June 3."

Cause for celebration indeed. If you'd rather mark the occasion by contributing directly to organizations that work to enfranchise women worldwide (rather than, say, staging a fireworks display), I commend you! Check out Women for Women International or MADRE. For a quick and interesting timeline of women's suffrage around the world, go here.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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