I have a confession to make: Kuwaiti women have renewed my hope in the Arab world, especially when it comes to the issue of Arab women’s rights. Kuwaiti women fought for years until they finally got the right to vote and run for parliament. It was today that we saw this materialize, as elections took place with the participation of female candidates for the very first time in the history of the Gulf emirate. The reason I’m so enchanted by this major step is because it is positive development amidst the plethora of heart-wrenching regional news.
The Washington Post ran a profile today of Kuwaiti female parliament candidate Rola Dashti. It is worth a read. In addition, Mona Eltahway wrote an article on this important development for the New York Daily News. Here is an excerpt:
Whether Kuwaiti women win any seats or not, they can rest assured that not only have they made history, but they are chipping away at the excuses that for too long have held back their sisters in Saudi Arabia, the regional powerhouse. Last year, Saudi women were denied the right to take part in their country’s first nationwide elections. Advocates of women’s rights there will surely seize on the sight of women in neighboring Kuwait voting and running for office to strengthen their own case for getting to vote in the 2009 Saudi elections. It is a big step in the right direction.
Indeed it is a big step and a very inspiring one as well.