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Historic first: Kuwaiti women vote, run

Old 04-05-06, 10:47 AM
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Historic first: Kuwaiti women vote, run

I haven't been around much recently, and it still may be a little while before I'm back on a regular basis, but I came across this story and thought it would be interesting to post/start a discussion on. In some ways it seems like a huge step forward for the region, but there's still so far to go, so in other ways it seems only like a tiny nudge.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/ofirst
Historic first: Kuwaiti women vote, run


KUWAIT CITY - A sea of black flooded a local polling station in Kuwait Tuesday when hundreds of women clad in the head-to-toe abaya cast their vote for the first time.

One of the two female candidates contesting a vacant seat on the powerful Municipal Council, Khaledah Al-Khader, said she faced some criticism from Islamic groups.

"Some individuals believe that simply because I am of the female gender, I am incapable of having a seat in the council - because I would not be strong enough to deal with the pressure," says Ms. Khader, a medical doctor educated at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Considered a test case for 2007 parliamentary polls, the by-election is the first in which women have been able to vote since the National Assembly approved universal suffrage last year.

The May 2005 decision sparked widespread debate about women's roles in politics, with some conservative Islamist members of Parliament arguing that women should not be allowed in Parliament without wearing the Islamic hijab, or head covering.

The landmark political participation of women in Kuwait's election Tuesday is part of a regional trend in the Arab Gulf states, where women are growing more publicly vocal about political matters.

Qatar recently announced that it would hold first ever parliamentary elections in 2007, in which women will be allowed to vote. These modest political gains mark a dramatic shift for a region where many women still cannot even leave their homes, take a job, or go to school without the permission of their father or husband.

But though Kuwait's new law was a victory for women activists who had fought for suffrage for decades, female candidates and voters still face obstacles.

Khader's fellow female candidate, 32-year-old chemical engineer Jenan Al-Bousheri, has taken a modest approach to her campaign, refusing to visit the all-male diwaniyas, or gathering places. Another female politician, Ayesha Al-Reshaid, who already announced plans to run for parliament in 2007 and has visited male diwaniyas, recently received a death threat warning her to stop campaigning.

Ms. Bousheri, who wears the Islamic hijab and has worked for the municipality for 10 years, says she doesn't feel threatened but instead is simply being respectful of the country's conservative nature. In addition to not visiting the diwaniyas, she refused to include her photo on campaign billboards, which could be considered indecent.

"It's a new situation in Kuwait. I don't want to put [up] my pictures. Maybe in the next two years or three years, the situation will be different ... I can put it [photos] but it's my decision," she says.

Early morning turnout at the polling stations was modest. Each station included an entrance for men and for women. Female monitors had been appointed by the electoral authorities to check the identity of female voters wearing abaya and niqab (face covering).

Kuwait TV said the polls marked an "historic day" for the country. Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah praised the elections, visiting polling stations in the predominately Shia area of Rumaythia just south of downtown Kuwait City.

The Municipal Council has 16 members, 10 elected and six appointed by the government. The local government body wields considerable power across the nation, approving building, construction, and road projects.

The seat became vacant following the death of the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Sabah and the appointment of a new government by the new Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah. Abdullah Al-Muhailbi, the Municipal Council member representing the fifth district of Rumathiya, Salmiya, was appointed Minister of Municipality in the new government.

In addition to the two female candidates, six male candidates competed for the seat. Women made up 57 percent of the 28,000 eligible voters for the fifth constituency.

Speaking at the polls, Khader told reporters that the elections showed the country and the world the capabilities of local women.

"This is the first time Kuwaiti women can show the men that we are capable. It is important that we do our best and leave the outcome of the polls to God," she said.

Material from the wires was used in this report.
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Old 04-05-06, 10:59 AM
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I believe that if the climate in Saudi Arabia changed, then all the other gulf states would fall into line. The House of Saud is responsible for the rise of Wahhabism; taking them out would have changed the face of the Middle East much more than taking Saddam out. Women's rights, individual rights, democracy would have a real chance. Mr. President, are you listening....?

p.s.: Good for Kuwait; I hope they vote their leaders out and put in some more tolerant ones.
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Old 04-05-06, 11:00 AM
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Definitely a step in the right direction. Still miles to go, but always great to see any kind of progress.
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Old 04-05-06, 11:01 AM
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i almost thought that this thread was about kuwaiti women voted and then runned for their lives..
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Old 04-05-06, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by huzefa
I believe that if the climate in Saudi Arabia changed, then all the other gulf states would fall into line. The House of Saud is responsible for the rise of Wahhabism; taking them out would have changed the face of the Middle East much more than taking Saddam out. Women's rights, individual rights, democracy would have a real chance. Mr. President, are you listening....?

p.s.: Good for Kuwait; I hope they vote their leaders out and put in some more tolerant ones.
There's some truth to that, but I think taking out the House of Saud would also leave a power vacuum that would quickly be filled in by extremist psychos, worse than the current rulers.
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Old 04-05-06, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Josh Hinkle
Definitely a step in the right direction. Still miles to go, but always great to see any kind of progress.
Agreed. This is positive.
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Old 04-05-06, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
There's some truth to that, but I think taking out the House of Saud would also leave a power vacuum that would quickly be filled in by extremist psychos, worse than the current rulers.
It definitely would. No one needs "taken out." These country's have to evolve on their own. Forced change won't stick, as I'm confident we will see in Iraq in a decade or two.
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Old 04-05-06, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Josh Hinkle
It definitely would. No one needs "taken out." These country's have to evolve on their own. Forced change won't stick, as I'm confident we will see in Iraq in a decade or two.
I'm usually against forced change, but as a Muslim when I read about the Wahabbi philosophies, it scares me enough into thinking that probably the only way to ever change Saudi Arabia is to remove the rulers who support this bastard Wahhabi ideology.
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Old 04-05-06, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by huzefa
I'm usually against forced change, but as a Muslim when I read about the Wahabbi philosophies, it scares me enough into thinking that probably the only way to ever change Saudi Arabia is to remove the rulers who support this bastard Wahhabi ideology.
Hard to say. It's just always dicey. When people try to force change, it usually ends up making things worse. Cases in point: the US helping oust the Sheik in Iran, helping Husein get to power in Iraq to counter the new government that arose in Iran, helping bin Laden fight the Soviets.

Thus I'm a firm believer in just letting countries settle their own affairs, until something HAS to be done (i.e. genocide is going on, they've invaded another country etc.).
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Old 04-05-06, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Josh Hinkle
Hard to say. It's just always dicey. When people try to force change, it usually ends up making things worse. Cases in point: the US helping oust the Sheik in Iran, helping Husein get to power in Iraq to counter the new government that arose in Iran, helping bin Laden fight the Soviets.

Thus I'm a firm believer in just letting countries settle their own affairs, until something HAS to be done (i.e. genocide is going on, they've invaded another country etc.).
The best way to take away Saudi Arabia's influence on the world is to take away their money. We need to stop buying their oil (although somebody else will - let the ME be their economic problem, not ours). Realistically, I don't see that happening though. The one bright spot about their oil dominance is that eventually the fields will run dry. Unless they have some other way to power their economy, they will return to being the backwater they once were before oil was discovered there in the 1930's.
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Old 04-05-06, 11:34 AM
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I think the best way to change Saudi Arabia is to empower women. That is slowly being done.
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Old 04-05-06, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by raven56706
i almost thought that this thread was about kuwaiti women voted and then runned for their lives..

I scratched my head on that one too. I thought either they're getting shot at when they vote or they now can vote AND participate in athletic competitions.
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Old 04-05-06, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by X
I think the best way to change Saudi Arabia is to empower women. That is slowly being done.
[Classicman] Hogwash! [/Classicman]

What empowerment are u talking about? It doesn't matter if women can now bank in privacy; what use is that if they can't get jobs in the first place? Or if they can't drive to their place of work? The Saudi royal family came about by force; I think they will be OK if it's taken away from them by force. BTW, do u really think that if we stop buying ME oil and remove ourself from Saudi Arabia, that Al Qaeda will stop?
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Old 04-05-06, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by huzefa
I usually laugh when people say this; so I'll do it again. Ha! What empowerment are u talking about? It doesn't matter if women can now bank in privacy; what use is that if they can't get jobs in the first place? Or if they can't drive to their place of work?
I am talking about empowerment on the level of having equal rights with men.

Originally Posted by huzefa
BTW, do u really think that if we stop buying ME oil and remove ourself from Saudi Arabia, that Al Qaeda will stop?
I don't believe I said anything about that.
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Old 04-05-06, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by huzefa
[Classicman] Hogwash! [/Classicman]BTW, do u really think that if we stop buying ME oil and remove ourself from Saudi Arabia, that Al Qaeda will stop?
Not like turning off a light switch, but much of the funding of these psychos comes from the oil rich Saudis. It's not a cure all, but we are assisting them in funding terrorists by buying their oil.
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Old 04-05-06, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by X
I am talking about empowerment on the level of having equal rights with men.

I don't believe I said anything about that.
My bad; wasn't directed at u; more of a general statement.
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