Women's suffrage in Kuwait

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The first bill which would have given women the right to vote in Kuwait was put to the parliament in 1973. It was ultimately overturned due to pressure from conservatives. Bills continued to be denied through 1985 and 1986. Kuwait then became heavily involved in the Iraq-Iran war, and women began demanding recognition for their efforts in keeping their families and society functional. The parliament agreed and the first woman was finally appointed as the ambassador of the Persian Gulf in 1993. In 1996, 500 women stopped working for an hour to show solidarity in their right for suffrage, and demonstrations continued throughout the next 6 years. In May 1999 a decree that allowed women the right to vote and run for office was issued by the emir, however it was overruled again by the parliament 6 months later.

Kuwait Country in Western Asia

Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait, is a country in Western Asia. Situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As of 2016, Kuwait has a population of 4.5 million people: 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 3.2 million are expatriates. Expatriates account for 70% of the population.

Parliament legislature whose power and function are similar to those dictated by the Westminster system of the United Kingdom

In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: representing the electorate, making laws, and overseeing the government via hearings and inquiries.

Iran–Iraq War 1980–1988 war between Iran and Iraq

The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between Iran and Iraq, beginning on 22 September 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, and ending on 20 August 1988, when Iran accepted the UN-brokered ceasefire. Iraq wanted to replace Iran as the dominant Persian Gulf state, and was worried that the 1979 Iranian Revolution would lead Iraq's Shi'ite majority to rebel against the Ba'athist government. The war also followed a long history of border disputes, and Iraq planned to annex the oil-rich Khuzestan Province and the east bank of the Arvand Rud.

Contents

In the 2003 election, women created mock ballots that “allowed hundreds of women to cast symbolic votes for real candidates.” [1] In March 2005, 1,000 people surrounded the Kuwaiti parliament and on May 17, a bill was passed 37 votes for and 21 votes against, granting Kuwaiti women the right to vote and run for an elected office. [2] Four years later, in May 2009, four female candidates won parliamentary seats in a general election out of fifty available seats. [3] [4] Although this was 8% of parliament, by the 2013 election, no women had been elected to the current parliament, and the last woman elected resigned in May 2014. [5]

A general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. These are usually held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.

History

After Kuwait gained independence in 1961, the Kuwaiti parliament passed new laws that limited voting to those who were male, over the age of 21, and had family living in Kuwait since before 1920. Women from the first graduating class at various universities across Kuwait banded together to create the Women’s Cultural and Social Society in 1963. Their goals were to raise awareness of women’s issues, but more importantly, to boost Kuwaiti women up and give them the opportunities to succeed. Kuwaiti women did have many more freedoms in comparison to their close neighboring countries, such as access to a higher education. [2]

Women's suffrage in 1985 and 2005

The franchise was expanded to include women in 2005. When voting was first introduced in Kuwait in 1985, Kuwaiti women had the right to vote. [6] This right was later removed. In 2005, Kuwaiti women were re-granted the right to vote. [7]

Women's Suffrage Movement

In 1973, parliament looked over a bill which would have given women the right to vote and run for elected office, which was ultimately overturned due to pressure from conservatives all over. Over 10 years later in 1984, the movement seemed to have gained some support when the current emir (Jaber Sabah) and the prime minister (Crown Prince Saad Sabah) announced that they were in favor of a women’s suffrage bill, which in turn offered some false hope. Different bills continued to be denied through 1985 and 1986 respectively, and until this changed, the highest position in government a Kuwaiti woman could hold was that of assistant secretary. Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, Kuwait then became heavily involved in the Iraq-Iran war. With the involvement in the war, it became vital for women to become hospital volunteers and even push the boundaries to smuggle in food and necessary items for their families. Since women took the initiative, they also demanded acknowledgment and recognition for their efforts. The parliament agreed and the first woman was finally appointed as the ambassador of the Persian Gulf in 1993. In May 1999, the current emir issued a decree that allowed women the right to vote and run for office, however, under the Kuwaiti Constitution, Parliament was allowed to reject and overrule the emir, and it did. However, for a period of 6 months, women had the right to vote. Unfortunately, there were no elections heard during this time before the emir was overruled. [8]

Emir title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world.

An emir, sometimes transliterated amir, amier, or ameer, is an aristocratic or noble and military title of high office used in a variety of places in the Arab countries, West Africa, and Afghanistan. It means "commander", "general", or "High King". The feminine form is emira. When translated as "prince", the word "emirate" is analogous to a sovereign principality.

The movement began to gain speed after this, and the first non-violent demonstration kicked off in 1996 when 500 women stopped working for an hour to show solidarity in their right for suffrage. Small demonstrations continued throughout the next 6 years and in 2002 a few Kuwaiti women decided to protest outside voter registration centers. Things continued to escalate and in the 2003 election, women created mock ballots that “allowed hundreds of women to cast symbolic votes for real candidates.” [9] In March 2005, 1,000 people surrounded the Kuwaiti parliament to reinforce their need for suffrage. On May 17, 2005 a bill was passed 37 votes for and 21 votes against women’s suffrage, granting Kuwaiti women the right to vote and run for an elected office. [2]

Four years later, in May 2009, four female candidates won parliamentary seats in a general election out of fifty available seats. [10] [11] Although this was 8% of parliament, by the 2013 election, no women had been elected in to the current parliament and the last woman elected resigned in May 2014. [12]

Activists

Noureya Al-Saddani: An author, historian, broadcaster, and director, Al-Saddani started the first women’s organization in Kuwait. In 1971 she proposed to the National Assembly to grant women's political rights [13]

Lulwa Almulla: worked around the globe and in her home country of Kuwait as well for the past 26 years, attempting to gain suffrage for women in her home. Although she helps run the family business, her true passion was in volunteering. She claims that women's suffrage does not end there and now women must be empowered to hold places in parliament. [14]

"The Criminal Court today sentenced Rana al-Sadoun to three years with hard labour in the case of her repeating a speech by Musallam al-Barrak." [15]

Kuwait and the ICCPR

Kuwait first ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1994 and 2 years later ratified the ICCPR, or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in 1996. In the year 2000, the Kuwaiti government has done little to modify its legislation that discriminates on the basis of gender. [16]

Objections under the ICCPR

"Although the Government of Kuwait endorses the worthy principles embodied in these two articles as consistent with the provisions of the Kuwait Constitution in general and of its article 29 in particular, the rights to which the articles refer must be exercised within the limits set by Kuwaiti law." [17]

Nationality

In the area of nationality, Kuwaiti women do not have the right to give their children Kuwaiti citizenship if they marry non-Kuwaiti men. Kuwaiti women cannot receive residential care and other rights that men can have if they marry non-Kuwaiti women. If a person is born in or outside Kuwait and their father is a Kuwaiti national, they are automatically a national themselves. [18]

See also

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Suffrage right to vote

Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise is the right to vote in public, political elections. In some languages, and occasionally in English, the right to vote is called active suffrage, as distinct from passive suffrage, which is the right to stand for election. The combination of active and passive suffrage is sometimes called full suffrage.

Womens suffrage the legal right of women to vote

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Universal suffrage Political concept

The concept of universal suffrage, also known as general suffrage or common suffrage, consists of the right to vote of all adult citizens, regardless of property ownership, income, race, or ethnicity, subject only to minor exceptions. In its original 19th-century usage by political reformers, universal suffrage was understood to mean only universal manhood suffrage; the vote was extended to women later, during the women's suffrage movement.

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National Assembly (Kuwait) National Assembly of Kuwait

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Elections in Kuwait

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Representation of the People Act 1918

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Timeline of womens suffrage

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Womens suffrage in the United Kingdom

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Womens suffrage in Australia

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References

  1. PeaceVoice (2016-05-11). "Blue Revolution – Kuwaiti Women Gain Suffrage". PeaceVoice. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  2. 1 2 3 "Kuwaiti women struggle for suffrage (Blue Revolution), 2002–2005 | Global Nonviolent Action Database". nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  3. CNN
  4. "Four Kuwaiti Women Become First to Win Seats in Parliament | NDI". www.ndi.org. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  5. Shalaby, Marwa. "Women's Political Representation in Kuwait: An Untold Story" (PDF). Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.
  6. Apollo Rwomire (2001). African Women and Children: Crisis and Response. p. 8.
  7. Hassan M. Fattah (17 May 2005). "Kuwait Grants Political Rights to Its Women". The New York Times . Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  8. Wills, Emily (2012). "Democratic Paradoxes: Women's Rights and Democratization in Kuwait". The Middle East Journal. 67: 173–184 via ProQuest.
  9. PeaceVoice (2016-05-11). "Blue Revolution – Kuwaiti Women Gain Suffrage". PeaceVoice. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  10. CNN
  11. "Four Kuwaiti Women Become First to Win Seats in Parliament | NDI". www.ndi.org. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  12. Shalaby, Marwa. "Women's Political Representation in Kuwait: An Untold Story" (PDF). Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.
  13. "الأستاذة نورية السداني - تاريخ الكويت". www.kuwait-history.net. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  14. Kmietowicz, Zosia (2006). "Victory for women's rights in Kuwait reawakens hope". British Medical Journal. 333.
  15. "Kuwait activist sentenced for insulting emir". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  16. "Kuwait: Promises Betrayed - Discrimination Against Women". www.hrw.org. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  17. "United Nations Treaty Collection" . Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  18. Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Refworld | Nationality Law, 1959". Refworld. Retrieved 2016-12-08.