Kuwait News

One Vote system deprives women of Parliament representation

A report, prepared by the National Center for Development Research of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning, called for the need to implement the quota system to allocate fixed seats in the National Assembly for women, and amending the one-vote electoral system, which center considers a system that limits women’s opportunities to win parliamentary seats.

This comes with the current parliamentary and popular demands for the need to change the electoral system in the country, while a government report calls for the necessity of amending this system to allow for the expansion of women’s participation in political life and decision-making.

The report linked the achievement of sustainable development goals to the empowerment of women in society, considering that the active presence of women in political life is an indicator of society’s progress and development.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by Al-Qabas, stressed that gender equality and women’s participation in politics enhance economic stability and contribute to strengthening institutions.

Regarding the implementation of the quota system, the report called for allocating a fixed number of seats among the members of the Council, which is classified as positive discrimination that would guarantee a fixed share for women in the Parliament and lead to continued women’s participation in political life.

The report recommended the necessity of amending the electoral system currently in effect, which is the one-vote system, because it limits women’s opportunities to obtain seats in Parliament. The report also encouraged ‘political parties’ and blocs to nominate equal numbers of women and men on their electoral lists.

The report called for the necessity of organizing training workshops to empower and qualify women in an integrated manner to reach decision-making positions and to work to spread awareness of negative social customs, traditions, and practices that perpetuate the stereotypical view of women and stand as a real obstacle to their progress and equality.

The report considers it necessary to provide an objective information base on active women and leaders to serve research studies, as well as to adopt sustainable and integrated development strategies that adopt the curricula of training programs and workshops aimed at political rehabilitation, in addition to raising awareness among women and building a knowledge base.

In terms of numbers, the report showed that Kuwait has declined in the gender gap index since the index was established, especially in the area of the percentage of women in Parliament, where it was ranked 110th in 2006, until it ranked 135th out of 146 in 2023, occupying fourth place in the Gulf since the adoption of women’s political rights in 2005.

The report concluded that the exclusion of the female component from the composition of Parliament is matched by a remarkable presence at the level of women’s participation in the electoral process, as the majority of voters are women, which indicates the existence of a crisis of confidence on the part of women towards their female counterparts, considering that the mentality of Kuwaiti society still bears certain images of appropriate work for women, as many see parliamentary work as “men’s work,” while women are more suited to administrative ministerial work.

The report confirmed that the one-vote system, which Kuwait adopts in its electoral system, was, and still is, the main obstacle to Kuwaiti women’s access to the desired extent to the Kuwaiti Parliament.

According to this system, the voter has the right to vote for one candidate in the district in which he is registered, and out of 5 districts, 10 candidates are nominated in each.

Therefore, the choice is always governed by societal, tribal, family and ideological calculations, which reduces women’s chances of success, which explains the small number of women’s representation in Parliament during previous sessions.

The government report stated that statistics demonstrated that increasing women’s representation in parliaments ensures progress in reforming discriminatory laws, such as family and personal status laws, and increasing investment in key areas, such as health, education, and social protection.

According to UN Women, the likelihood of peace agreements lasting more than fifteen years increases by 35% when women participate in the negotiations.

Basic requirements of the report include changing the “one vote” electoral system, allocating a number of parliamentary seats to women and expanding women’s participation in decision-making.

Actions to change social consciousness include organizing workshops to empower women, changing society’s stereotypical view of women and highlighting women’s achievements in all fields.

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