Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The times they are a'changin -- at least in Kuwait

How's this for news?

The Kuwaiti parliament has voted to give women full political rights. The amendment to the Kuwait's electoral law means women can for the first time vote and stand in parliamentary and local elections. It was passed by 35 votes for, 23 against, with one abstention. Council elections are due this year. The result, announced by the speaker of parliament, was greeted with thunderous applause from the public gallery where backers of the amendment were gathered. "I congratulate the women of Kuwait for having achieved their political rights," said Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. Kuwait's ruler Sheikh Jabir al-Ahmad al-Sabah issued a decree giving women full political rights in 1999. The change in the law, which was agreed at the end of a 10-hour session, had previously been blocked by a majority of tribal and Islamist members of parliament. Many of these had argued that Islamic law prohibited women from positions of leadership. The amendment requires women voters and candidates to abide by Islamic law. Correspondents say this is an attempt by the ruling family to reassure Islamists. But it could also place restrictions on women campaigners.
As I understand it, Kuwait has always been more forward thinking than its neighbors, but I do wonder if this would have happened if the US hadn't established a military outpost on its doorstep.