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Dr Badriya al Awadi
"This is a big success"
 real 28k

Monday, 29 May, 2000, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Kuwaiti women claim mini-victory
women registering to vote
Women have "equal rights" but are not allowed to vote
By Middle East correspondent Frank Gardner

Kuwait's women political activists have moved a step closer to winning the right to vote and stand for parliament.

On Monday, a court in the Gulf Emirate allowed Kuwait businesswoman Rula Dashti to take her appeal for political rights to the constitutional court.

It was a morning of mixed results for Kuwait's women political campaigners.

The country's administrative court reportedly threw out several cases filed by women demanding their political rights.

But of the five cases filed, one has got through to the next stage in the legal process and that, say the women, is a victory.

Rula Dashti is one of several women who are suing the interior ministry for refusing to allow them to register as voters.

Equal rights

Kuwait's constitution of 1962 is supposed to give equal rights to both men and women.

But while Kuwait has the only elected law-making parliament amongst the Gulf Arab states, women are barred from voting or standing for office.

Women activists say this violates the constitution.

Rula Dashti's case before the constitutional court is likely to be heard within a month and Kuwaitis say the whole country will be watching.

Government's problem

The case puts the government in the odd position of having to argue against itself.

Last year, Kuwait's ruling emir issued a decree giving women their full political rights.

The decree was backed by the government, but in order to become law it had to be passed by parliament.

In November, MPs narrowly defeated the bill, arguing that having women in parliament would go against Kuwait's Islamic and tribal traditions.

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See also:

30 Nov 99 | Middle East
No vote for Kuwaiti women
09 Nov 99 | Middle East
Kuwait votes-for-women setback
17 Jul 99 | Middle East
Kuwait's royalty backs women
09 Mar 99 | Middle East
Analysis: Gulf democracy gets boost
03 Jul 99 | Monitoring
Election view from Kuwait media
01 Jul 99 | Middle East
Kuwait elections go online
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