NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Kuwait: Where Women can't Vote

August 11, 2003

The question of the enfranchisement of women is on the table in Kuwait, in light of the results of the current academic year's school examinations, released recently by the Ministry of Education. The results are bittersweet: high achievements by the women, who must then stand and watch with their mothers as their brothers and fathers head to the polls.

  • Of the students who passed the final secondary school examinations, 77 percent were girls; the girls won all the top places in all the subjects.
  • Girls are also a majority of university students in practically all subjects.
  • However, only one out of six girls emerging from Kuwaiti education has any chance of getting a job that reflects her academic achievements -- due to the limited opportunities for women in the public sector (which employs 94 percent of workers).
  • A survey of the new parliament shows that at least 22 members will support the idea of women voting.
  • At least four other members support a position under which women would be allowed to vote but would not be allowed to stand for election for at least another 10 years.

Some opponents to giving voting rights to women claim that the idea strays from the tenants of Islam, yet it is only one of two Muslim countries where women cannot vote.

Source Amir Taheri, "Women in Kuwait,", July 16, 2003.


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