Al-Watan Daily: "Kuwaiti men uncertain of women's eligibility in legislative power"

,

Following this article, I have my direct responses to each of the men interviewed, person by person.  Please read.

Angie Galal, Staff Writer

"KUWAIT: With elections being less than two weeks away, candidates are steaming ahead with their campaigns as they race against the clock. However, most voters are still elusive about their choices, some saying they are overwhelmed at the abundance of choices and confused about whom to vote for.

Nevertheless, the parliament elections this round have witnessed developments regarding women''s political rights. The number of women candidates has increased compared to the last three elections, and their campaign objectives have drifted away from feminism to general problems and issues of interest that relate to all sects of society.

However, some Kuwaiti men still controversially perceive women''s ineligibility to participate in the parliamentary elections.

Abdulrahman Alـ Asousy, an engineer at a governmental ministry, said that he does not support women being in parliament.

"The make up of women is different from men. Women''s emotions drive their decisions, while the position requires absolute logic. Both women and men have gender roles in society, and I don''t think that throughout history any woman leader has succeeded in her position."

Abdulaziz AlـDekhail, a supervisor at a governmental institution, agreed with AlـAsousy, confirming that he has never voted for a woman and does not plan to do so in the future.

"I was brought up seeing men in the parliament; this is what I am used to and this is what we were taught to do. Women don''t take legislative decisions."

For his part, Mohammad Quraiby is concerned that women are beginning to dominate men in society and overly intermingling with them.

"I wouldn''t like a woman to be a man''s boss, and it''s possible for me to reach a man anytime I want, while women will confine our capability. I''m for women''s political right to vote, but not their candidacy. The diwan (parliament) is solely for men, and I believe that women can''t be present there just like as it is with diwaniyas."

Yet, on the other hand, some believe that women candidates have improved compared to their prior trials.

"I''m considering voting for women this parliamentary round because I have noticed that they are getting better. The women that I''m planning to vote for are Masouma AlـMubarak, Aseel AlـAwadhi and Salwa AlـJassar, and I''m suspecting that at least one woman will make it into parliament this time," said Waleed Jumah, an employee at one of Kuwait''s petroleum companies.

Mohammad Sowayel, considering the same women candidates as Jumah, added that he has attended all of the candidate''s lectures and believes that they "speak their heart.

"I am not going to vote for any man this round of elections. They have always promised us many things, but never met any of them."

Sowayel also believes that "once men reach their desired goals, they forget about those who stood by them, while women always remember the favours and pay them back."

As Kuwaiti men and women ponder the thought of whether women will be able to finally make it into the parliament or not, one thing is certain: it will be determined within the coming few days." (click here for link to article)

----------------------------------------------

To Abdulrahman Alـ Asousy and his “women are biologically more emotional than men” argument:

I am sorry to say, but there is a strong correlation between a country’s level of development and the amount of female participation in politics.  I went to the World Bank’s Data Section, to Genderstats, and looked at the data on Political Participation.  This gave me an indicator on Proportion of Seats Held by Women in National Parliament.  According to the ranking of women participation in lower houses collected by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Kuwait ranks  127 of 134, just below Haiti, Mongolia and Vanuatu (click here for full chart)

There are plenty of female heads of state currently running countries with much greater levels of democracy than Kuwait (Merkel in Germany, Bachelet in Chile), and this number is only growing thus proving that given fair social conditions, women have perfect ability to make sharp decisions through logical reasoning and critical thinking.

And, please, I challenge you to tell me that the recent history of male-dominated parliamentarians and election cycles are a bastion of the power of males to demonstrate their logical reasoning for decision-making, unguided by emotional appeals and irrational arguments?

To Abdulaziz AlـDekhail and his “women as passive players is all I know and grew up with” argument:

Well, you need to grow up.  This is not a sound basis for denying women the chance to participate in politics. True change requires individuals to make a dramatic departure from the rules of the game in the present.  Just recently in the United States, voters placed in to power a man whose father would have been denied a seat in a restaurant to eat, for example.  Now, his son is president.

If anything, this is the most cowardly argument, hiding behind the idea of being a product of one’s environment when it reality, when we make decisions to allow or not allow something we become an active participant in shaping society.  When Al-Dekhail  does not take responsibility of the way things are,  he is excusing himself from being accountable for the actions he takes and the bigotry he chooses to hold on to.

To Mohammad Quraiby and his “if we give them this, their demands will never stop”, slippery slope argument:

It is obvious he is a beneficiary of the status quo, enjoys making important political decisions behind the closed doors of diwaniyahs and will only change his position in a situation where he loses out from denying women candidacy.  He represents the old generation of Kuwaiti politics, and I hope there will be a growing movement of young Kuwaitis seeking change to replace him.  Behind his statements is simple, unabashed deep fear.

To Supporter Waleed Jumah:

It is good that you notice that women are getting more politically savvy, self-confident and aware of the game.  This proves testament to the fact that women only need to be properly bolstered and supported when introduced to politics for the first time.  This also disproves the argument that women are biologically inferior for politics, but rather it shows that political participation requires social conditioning, positive reinforcement and acceptance by other members of society.

To Supporter Mohammad Sowayel: 

I really think it is correct that for as long as there is an “old boy’s club” in politics in Kuwait there will be none of the real change that many Kuwaitis seem to be yearning for in politics.  This real change I believe is to be found in the introduction of women in parliament.  Kuwaitis should at least give it a chance.  And it will take more than one election cycle to prove itself around, but it’s a definite big step for change—and in the right direction.  

1 Response on "Al-Watan Daily: "Kuwaiti men uncertain of women's eligibility in legislative power""

  1. Thomas says:

    Hi,

    You forgot to include Tarja Halonen, as the President of Finland (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarja_Halonen ). Our Defence Minister (often the bastion of male power) was also a woman a few years ago ( see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_Rehn ) also almost became President...