There was a political milestone in Kuwait this weekend, where for the first time, women were elected to Kuwait’s parliament.
Voters elected four women to the 50-member parliament and rejected a number of Islamic fundamentalist candidates. It was only four years ago that women won the right to vote in Kuwait.
A Kuwaiti woman at the “This Lady Says” blog expresses her joy and pride at the outcome:
With tears in my eyes, thoughts on my mind and the utmost joy in my heart, I’d like to thank each and every single person who voted yesterday. It’s because of you that we were able to change more than 40% of the parliament members. We made four women members of the parliament. Not one, not two, but four!
Though you and I may be different, and though we might share different opinions, we still participated in one of Kuwait’s most important events. We took matters into our own hands and we went and ticked the names we wanted on the ballots. We did not give up, we did not despair. Although Kuwait experienced the lowest turnout of voters ever to take part in the elections, many of us still went there and did their duty.
We can’t sit and home and complain about a situation and then refuse to take action when action is needed. We, the people, hold the votes in our hand. We have, and always will have, the power to change things. And when change is due, change must come.
And finally, change has come. It might be small to begin with, but gradually, things will change for the better. We can’t expect whatever needs to be mended, to be fixed right away. With time, and with a lot of hard work, we will get there.
I love my country. It’s not perfect. It might never be. But it’s my country. It’s given me so much, and I’m so glad that I never ever forget that. And I hope that as long as I live, I will be able to give back to Kuwait what it has given me.
Blogger Falantan disagrees, quoting a book that says “People who appoint women to lead them will not succeed” [translation courtesy of Worldfocus associate producer Mohammad Al-Kassim]. He writes:
I think it’s a prophetic statemtent [sic] that speaks about any people who appoint a lady to public office.
I did not vote for women yesterday, and I had no doubt in my mind that Ma3sooma [candidate Massouma al-Mubarak] (my vote is in her constituency) was a great person. If she had been a man, I would probably vote for her. But again I didn’t vote for her because of this 7adeeth [prophetic saying].
So best of luck to Kuwait in their misguided choice to place 4 women into Parliament. Inshalla we don’t get more in the future.
The “Pocket Full of Sunshine” blog writes that women will be equally strong, if not stronger, leaders:
Us women (especially in the Kuwaiti society) are very disadvantaged not just within the society but also within the institutions that individually make up our society.
Women are the future of Kuwait, we do have the ability, the knowledge, the power to change.
I do not want men, women, boys, girls to question the power that us women have over change, we ARE capable, we ARE willing, we DO have the opportunity, we CAN make the change.
I, personally believe that people in the likes of Dr. Aseel Al Awadhi, Rola Dashti, Dr.Masouma Mubarek Dr.Rasha Al Sabahand Sheikha AlGhanim should be in the parliament, these women are the change I want to see in the world. Dr.Aseel Al Awadhi is somebody I strive to be even slightly like in the future, women like her give me hope and not only do I believe that she can change the books for Kuwait but for each and every woman and man out there she gives us that little bit of hope that change is out there, it is coming and she never lets me doubt that for a second. Until its my turn to be in the parliament, until it's my turn to make the change. Dr.Aseel Al Awadhi belongs in the parliament and that is a FACT.
Blogger Hilaliya writes that the campaign strategies of the more fundamentalist candidates backfired:
Our faith in the system and people of Kuwait was reaffirmed today.
Following years of uncertainty and gridlock, the people of Kuwait have voted for change. I am certainly in high spirits, and relieved. We were hoping one or two women would make it in, we got four!
Some newcomer independents also won and ‘Hadas’ took a big hit in the 3rd District (my district). The ‘fatwas’ and mudslinging by xenophobic elements towards women and progressive candidates backfired, reenergizing and intensifying support for them.
Another blogger describes campaigning for one of the female winners:
I’m elated that several women won. That Dr Rola Dashti was among the winners… well that just rocks!
I joined her camp about a month ago [...] The last few days especially were awesome! That said, yesterday was brutal! We had to wake up at the crack of done, hotfoot it to the schools we were allocated to, man our positions, and “work it”. I know that it was a teensy bit cloudy and there was a slight breeze but honestly that didn’t make much of a difference. It was still so hot! The rain was a pleasant change.
What was even more refreshing was the fact that the chicks, young and old, the ones that came to vote and the ones who were working, like us, were all so nice! That seriously blew me over. No matter how many times I see it, feel it, experience it. I still can’t believe it. The women that came to vote were all “ya36eekum il3afyah”. The younger chicks that were “workin’ it” were super-friendly to each other and to the girls in other camps.
At night, everyone let their guards down and completely relaxed. There was singing, clapping, and some weird dancing. The jovial mood spread like wildfire. I felt a certain fondness for all these crazy, happy, hard-working, good people.
“Alpha Dinar,” a Kuwaiti blog focused on finance, writes that female representation will have an economic impact:
Electing four women to the Kuwaiti parliament is a milestone in our democracy and a firm step in the progress and development of our country. I firmly believe that it will have major economic repercussions. Voting for women is an evident social/political change that can pave the road for financial overhaul and openness. We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel that will transform our dependent mentality and socialist economy into accountable capitalism. Let us celebrate this moment and work hard for more to follow.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Buthaina al-Othman under a Creative Commons license.