By Majd Othman
KUWAIT: Empowering Kuwaiti women politically has met with many obstacles in recent years, as Kuwaiti women are still struggling with a lot of things that are hindering them from becoming leaders or decision makers. Male dominance, societal acceptance and women not supporting female candidates are perennial issues affecting women’s access to the Assembly, which was clear in the result of the recent National Assembly elections, where only one female candidate — Jenan Boushehri — won a seat among 13 female candidates.
Women not supporting each other is one of the main reasons affecting the results, as number of women told Kuwait Times they believe women shouldn’t be in the Assembly due to many reasons, including that women didn’t achieve anything previously when they got the opportunity. On the other hand, especially in some electoral districts, many Kuwaiti women believe religious laws prevent women from becoming leaders or “guardians”, as they think guardianship is only for men. Kuwait Times discussed with women voters in several electoral districts their points of view.
A female citizen said Kuwait is a conservative country that seeks to implement religious legislations in a way that helps people improve their lives. Although she stressed female representatives in the Assembly is not religiously forbidden, she believes women cannot be main leaders, such as judges or rulers, or be in a position where they have to make critical and fateful decisions. But she reiterated a woman can be a representative in the Assembly beside men to help them come up with better legislation.
The voter also believes traditions hugely influence female voters’ decisions. “Many women think men are the best leaders, who have more power and ability to handle things that women can’t. We are raised to believe women cannot be in all types of jobs, and that’s why men are still the majority in the Assembly and other positions,” she added. Another female voter told Kuwait Times she chose to vote for a male candidate because she believes he accomplished more than what women did in previous years.
When asked if women had enough chances to prove themselves, she admitted they didn’t have enough time, whether due to repeated dissolutions of the Assembly, male representatives fighting them or being exposed to questioning. Also, despite many women saying they support women’s empowerment and hoping they could have more opportunities in the Assembly, the same women told Kuwait Times they voted for men, either because they think women in their districts are not qualified, or they agree with the idea that guardianship is only for men, according to their beliefs.