Indicator: Kuwaiti Women Win Political Rights

After years of pressure from women's rights groups, in May Kuwait's parliament granted women the right to vote and stand for election. The vote came too late for municipal elections in May, but weeks later, the first two women in the country's history were appointed to the municipal council. On June 12, Kuwait's first woman cabinet minister was appointed.
 
Women will be able to participate in the next parliamentary elections in 2007 and in municipal elections in 2009. Conservative opponents of women's rights had repeatedly blocked the changes, and Islamists loudly disrupted the swearing-in of the new woman minister for planning, Massouma al-Mubarak.

Until now, only male Kuwaiti citizens over 21 who were not members of the police or military could vote. According to the Al Jazeera news service, that means only 139,000
voters are registered to cast ballots out of 960,000 Kuwaitis. With women over 21 voting, the figure could reach 339,000.

—Carolyn McConnell