By Majd Othman
KUWAIT: Women in Kuwait were granted their political rights in 2005, but since then they have been struggling politically, due to several reasons. In recent years, women’s representation in the National Assembly has become much weaker than before. Head of Women’s Cultural and Social Society Lulwa Al-Mulla told Kuwait Times that the one-vote electoral system and political funds are the main reasons preventing women from being empowered in the Assembly.
Mulla said during a meeting to support Kuwaiti women candidates that political money is distorting and hindering the democratic process in Kuwait, which is resulting in political instability in the country. She stressed that in order to empower women on the political scene, political stability should be a top priority, calling for creating an election commission that supervises elections and organizes the electoral process. Mulla concluded by saying that a women’s quota is not the way to resolve this issue.
She said she opposes this system, explaining it is too early to discuss imposing a quota as long as the country suffers from political instability. Kuwait’s first female minister Maasouma Al-Mubarak told Kuwait Times people should be optimistic over the matter of empowering women in the next Assembly, but due to previous experiences, where Kuwaiti women voted more than 10 times, the behavior of female voters towards women did not change.
Therefore, “there is little room for optimism”, she said. “We hope there will be an awakening among women to stand beside their nominated female candidates who need their support first, and then support competent men,” Mubarak added Regarding the main obstacle facing women from being politically empowered, Mubarak said a large segment of female voters in Kuwait are misled, which is one of main reasons affecting women reaching the Assembly. On the other hand, she pointed out plenty of media campaigns are distorting the image of female candidates or at least not being fair with them, which affects their share of votes.
“Not to mention that the number of male candidates is huge, and they have taken this opportunity for years,” she said, adding “the opportunity should now go to women.” On the matter of a women’s quota system, Mubarak said after women being candidates more than 10 times, their chances are diminishing year after year. She said the women’s quota system is an opportunity to adjust the balance between men and women in the Assembly, at least temporarily, until a segment of women reaches parliament.
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