Monday, March 07, 2005

Kuwaitis demonstrate for women's suffrage

Kuwaitis demonstrate for women's suffrage

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Around 500 Kuwaiti activists, mostly women, have demonstrated outside parliament to demand female suffrage amidst tensions in the Gulf Arab state over a government drive to grant women political rights.

'Women's rights now,' chanted the crowd, which included women dressed in abayas, or traditional long black cloaks. Some of the demonstrators at Monday's protest wore veils over their faces.

'Our democracy will only be complete with women,' said a placard written in Arabic. 'We are not less, you are not more. We need a balance, open the door,' said one written in English."
Some Islamic lawmakers have said they would back women voting but not running. Other Islamists and tribal legislators oppose the bill.

"For the past 40 years, Kuwait's society has been used to the idea that elections take place in such a manner (without women)," said parliamentarian Khaled Adwah.

Washington has been pressing its allies in the Middle East to bring in political reforms, saying lack of freedom and democracy have fostered violent Islamic militancy.

Kuwaiti women have traditionally been more liberal and educated than those in other Gulf states, who have already won political rights in Bahrain and Qatar.

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