Kuwaiti voters go to the polls for their parliamentary elections
Saturday. Some Kuwaiti Islamic fundamentalists are urging women
candidates and voters not to participate in politics, saying it is
anti-Islamic. But others are dismissing this claim, saying it is
Aseel al-Awadi is running for a
parliamentary seat. She is a university professor of philosophy at
Kuwait University. She says it is time to see reform in Kuwait and no
one is going to stop her from running for parliament.
women have to have a seat in parliament," she said. "It is about time
that women have a role in politics in general. Practically speaking
women should have representation in parliament, this is one reason. Another reason is [that] I am capable of doing something different in
parliament given my credentials."
But some members of Kuwait's
Islamic Salafi political party have called for a boycott of women
candidates on the grounds that public offices are reserved only for men
according to their interpretation of Islam. Walid al-Tabtabaei is a
Salafi political member who is a candidate in the elections. He says
having women in positions of power goes against the teachings of Islam.
He says they are opposed to women being a member of parliament
for religious reasons because all the prophets are men not women for
good reason and Islam says the burden for office is too great for women.
to The Kuwait Times, only 19 of the registered 282 candidates are
women, down from the 28 who registered last year and 31 in 2006.
gave women the right to vote and run for office in 2005. Kuwait's
National Assembly was dissolved in March after tension between the
legislative and executive powers. It is the third election in as many
Abdullah Mohammad al-Turaiji is running as an
independent in the elections. He says fundamentalists are simply
attacking female candidates because they are afraid of losing power.
says these people are afraid of women because they are worried that
they will get their position in the parliament. But he says he is sure
that some women will get seats and he supports that. He says he wants
the parliament to be more balanced.
Aseel al-Awadi agrees that the slurs against her and other female candidates are politically motivated.
is social and political reasons behind their attack on women,
particularly me," she said. "So I think there is some threat on their
political agenda by having some female candidates really doing good in
this election and having chances to win."
Though no the female
candidates have ever won a seat in Kuwait's parliament, Al-Awadi is not
dissuaded. She says she is hoping to make history.