Kuwaiti women and Parliament Lawyer . Nour Mahmoud bin Haider

With the Council of Ministers announcing its approval of the decree calling for the eighteenth parliamentary elections in the history of Kuwait, which were set for the 5th of December, 2020 through the (one vote), electoral system, many questions come to my mind:

  • What are the women's chances in this parliament?

  • What are the reasons behind the low success rate of women in being elected for parliament?

  • Is this due to the male and female voters or the female candidates themselves?

  • What are the difficulties and challenges faced by women candidates?

  • What are the characteristics that the female candidate must possess in order to bring her closer to winning a seat in parliament?

To begin with, we must emphasize that the experience of women entering the political arena, is a recent phenomenon in Kuwait, therefore, it is not possible to judge women’s performance based on it. Kuwaiti men have enjoyed their full right to vote and run for office since the beginning of the sixties, while women, won their political rights in 2005, showing that their political experience does not exceed 15 years, while men’s experience is close to sixty years.

Women were nominated as representative of the nation and succeeded in the 2009 parliamentary elections, with 4 members:

Dr. Masoumeh Al-Mubarak / Dr. Aseel Al-Awadi / Dr. Rola Dashti  and Dr. Salwa Al-Jassar

This is the highest level of experience for women since we obtained our right to vote and run for office. As for the previous parliament, unfortunately, only one woman, Mrs. Safaa Al-Hashem, succeeded.

The one vote system is one of the main obstacles to women's access to parliament. This is as it is favorable to the candidate who is supported by sectarian or tribal groups, or whoever pays more, and does not provide a voting process that is governed by competence, professionalism, and ability to represent the electorate.

There are challenges that women wishing to enter the political arena face, some of which are self-oriented, family-oriented, or societal.

Self: consists of building a solid personality capable of waging this battle, enjoying the art of speech and a smooth and convincing style, being patient and humble, accepting dissenting opinions, accepting rejection, feels the necessity to address public issues, studying the cultural background of the groups targeted by the electoral program, setting clear goals that touch the largest segment of the electorate, and qualifying herself by declaring her desire to run, which must precede the elections by a short period.

Family-oriented: where a woman who receives support from her family has increased chances of success. The parents and the family must accept the idea of ​​their daughter running in the elections, and cooperate with her, as the presence of a supporting team increases her confidence in her electoral standing and broadens her electoral base. As well the team will facilitate her access to gatherings and social events that allow her to reach a larger segment of the electorate. It should be noted here that a feature that women benefit from, unlike men; is the ability of women to enter men's gatherings and women's gatherings as well as mixed family gatherings in their constituencies comfortably, while it is difficult for a man to enter a gathering of a family who has no relationship to him or lineage.

Societal: Even though the number of women voters exceeds the number of male voters, the culture of society greatly influences women's access to parliament. We see that most of the male and female voters trust the performance of men more than women and believe that men are best suited for membership of Parliament and political work.

  1. Voters in Kuwait (2007)

Women:     (271,572) 52.3%

Men:                    (248,052) 47.7%

Some say that women have less interest in politics than men. This could be due to several reasons, including the delay in obtaining women's political rights, as well as the culture of exclusion and marginalization faced by women in our societies.

Overcoming this view is achieved by spreading awareness of the right of women to choose whoever represents them, conforms to their ideology and supports their demands, and that this is a societal duty that falls upon everyone, starting with the woman herself and the family and ending with the government, which must support and contribute to empowering women to participate in political life.

It is important to note that, by participating in the National Assembly, a woman represents all citizens, males, and females, so she must address both men and women. Embracing women's issues is indeed important, but that does not mean that the candidate only addresses women.

 In conclusion, I hope that women will have more chances in this council, and the voter will be more aware of his choice of the most competent and loyal candidate who is responsible enough to extricate the country from corruption and leading us to reform.

We have a valuable opportunity and we must take advantage of it for a better Kuwait.

(The electoral process, despite its importance, represents only the formal aspect of democracy, it is a great national responsibility that is realized by obeying Allah and observing our conscience, in the good selection of the nation’s representatives and monitoring their performance and appropriate parliamentary practices of embodying serious oversight and constructive legislation and adhering to the provisions of the constitution in letter and spirit and working to hold them accountable, as I invite you all to support Kuwait, and regard loyalty to it as the first and foremost concern)

From the speech of His Highness the Emir, Sheikh Nawwaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, may Allah protect him.

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