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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 June, 2005, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Women appointed to Kuwait council
A Kuwaiti woman flashes a V-sign after the parliament's decision. Archive picture
Women activists hailed last month's decision by parliament
The government of Kuwait has named two women as members of its municipal council, for the first time in the history of the Gulf emirate.

A government minister said the cabinet decided this at its weekly meeting.

The women are among six appointed members of the 16-member civic body - which go to the Emir for ratification.

Ten other councillors were elected in the male-only elections on 2 June. Women will be able to take part in parliamentary elections in 2007.

The law was passed by the Kuwaiti parliament last month, but it came too late for the last poll.

Limited powers

"During its weekly meeting on Sunday, the cabinet named two women to the municipal council for the first time in the history of Kuwait," Social Affairs Minister Faysal al-Hajji said.

Fatima al-Sabah is an assistant under-secretary at the Emiri diwan, or ruler's court, and a member of the ruling family, according to the Kuwaiti news agency, Kuna.

The other councillor, Fawzia al-Bahr, is an engineer by profession, it said.

The council has limited powers, focusing mainly on civic planning, monitoring some public services and restaurants and also roads and civil construction.

Following the decision by the parliament, women in Kuwait will make their election debut in the 2007 poll and in the next municipal election in 2009.

The Emir of Kuwait has backed female suffrage in the face of strong opposition from tribal and Islamist factions in parliament, the BBC's Gulf correspondent Julia Wheeler reports.

The move means that Kuwait joins Bahrain, Oman and Qatar as the only Gulf States to give women the right to vote and also stand for public office.

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