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Kuwaiti Women Get Vote for 2003

May 16, 1999

KUWAIT (AP) _ Kuwait’s Cabinet gave women the right to vote and run for parliament Sunday, the state news agency reported, putting the emirate even further ahead of its Gulf neighbors in moving toward democracy.

The decision, though, does not take effect in time for parliament elections in July.

Parliament was dissolved earlier this month, and when a new body is formed after July 3 elections, it has the right to review all laws passed by Cabinet and could reject the women’s franchise.

If the decree is approved, women will be able to vote in the general elections in 2003.

The Kuwaiti Cabinet’s move was unexpected.

Women’s political rights have not been a priority since the beginning of the democratic process in Kuwait in 1963.

Only a few women have spoken for their rights, and their efforts had been futile. Most women in this oil-rich state had accepted the view that politics was a male-only domain.

Kuwait is the only Persian Gulf state with an elected parliament. Qatar allows women to vote, but for a council with only advisory powers. Oman’s consultative council has two women members, but the body is indirectly elected.

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