Women won four seats in Kuwait’s parliament in Saturday’s election, the first to do so in the Gulf Arab state’s history in what will be a blow to the Islamists who have long dominated the assembly.
Sixteen women were among 210 candidates for the 50-seat assembly, whose new composition was announced on Sunday.
Kuwaiti women were first given the right to vote and run for office in 2005 but failed to win any seats in the 2006 and 2008 elections, held in this conservative Muslim country where politics is still widely seen as a man’s domain.
Some 384,790 Kuwaitis, over half of them women, were eligible to vote but turnout was low with voters worried that the poll would do little to end a long-running standoff between parliament and government that has delayed economic reforms.
Kuwait’s ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, called the election after dissolving parliament two months ago to end the crisis and push through a $5 billion economic stimulus package.
The official KUNA news agency said liberal candidates Aseel Awadhi and Rola Dashti came second and seventh in the third constituency, giving them both seats in the house.
Former health minister Massouma al-Mubarak, who became the first Kuwaiti woman minister in 2005, and another female candidate, Salwa al-Jassar, also secured seats in parliament.