World

Kuwaiti women vote in first election

Women cast ballots and ran as candidates for the first time ever in Kuwait in a by-election that is seen as a preview to how women might fare in next year's parliamentary elections.

Women cast ballots and ran as candidates for the first time in Kuwait in a byelection that is being seen as a preview to how they might fare in next year's parliamentary elections.

The vote in the conservative oil-rich nation was to fill a seat in Kuwait City's Municipal Council. It came almost a year after parliament passed a bill allowing women to vote and stand as candidates in elections.

"They have given us some attention. We became equal," Iman al-Issa, 28, told Associated Press as she waited to vote outside a polling station's female entrance. There are separate entrances for the genders.

The right to vote won support among moderate Shia Muslims in the legislature, but was strongly opposed by Islamists and tribal legislators, who argued that women should not mix with men in campaigns.

Hardline Sunni Muslims, the dominant sect in Kuwait, believe a women's priority is to take care of her family.

Most women appeared not to take up their new right in the early hours of voting. Many more men than women were seen waiting in line to vote.

Two of the eight candidates were women: Jinan Boushehri, 32, a chemical engineer who heads the food-testing department at Kuwait Municipality, and Khalida al-Kheder, 48, a U.S.-educated physician and a mother of eight.

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