Women are running for seats in Kuwait’s 50-seat parliament for the first time since the governing body was created in 1962. According to Agence France Presse (AFP), 32 of the 380 candidates are women, who were granted the right to run for office, as well as to vote, in May 2005. Women have been actively involved in other aspects of Kuwaiti public life, reports BBC, and a woman was appointed as minister after the 2005 vote.
According to AFP, 8 of the 15 constituencies in which women are running for office are extremely right-wing and women are required to veil their faces. However, there are more female than male voters in 21 of the 25 total Kuwaiti constituencies, since members of the military are not permitted to vote and the military is mainly staffed by men, reports AFP. Women candidates are hoping for a high turnout among female voters, though candidate Rula Dashti told an audience recently that “I want you to vote for me not because I am a woman but rather because I carry your concerns.”
Kuwaiti women first voted in April 2006, going to the polls to choose a local council member in the district of Salmiya. However, the two female candidates were not permitted to display posters that showed their faces, exemplifying the tensions that remain even as women’s rights advance.
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