Kuwait’s First Woman Minister Sworn in Amidst Protest and Praise

Kuwait’s first woman cabinet minister, Massouma al-Mubarak, officially took office on Monday despite protests from conservative and Islamic Members of Parliament (MPs). Her swearing-in ceremony was met with loud dissent from opposition MPs and cheers from supporters. Al-Mubanak begins her role as minister of planning and administrative development just over a month after Kuwaiti women won the right to vote and to run for office, an advancement that follows years of struggle by Kuwaiti women’s rights activists.

Following al-Mubarak’s cabinet appointment on June 12, MPs opposed to women’s participation in government tried and failed to get her appointment declared unconstitutional. These members claimed that in order to meet the requirements to become a minister, al-Mubarak must be a registered voter. However, as Kuwaiti women just won the right to vote this past May and voter registration takes place in February, no woman running for office would have had the chance to register. Speaker Jassem al-Khorafi told the Parliament on Monday that constitutional experts had confirmed the legality of al-Mubarak’s appointment, according to BBC News.

After taking her oath, al-Mubarak commented, “It’s a great day for Kuwaiti women who have struggled and persevered persistently to gain their full political rights,” reports Reuters.

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BBC News 6/20/05, Reuters 6/20/05, SF Gate 6/17/05

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