A LONG WAY FOR KUWAITI WOMEN
In 1776, when John Adams sat with a committee of men in Philadelphia, writing the Declaration of Independence, he got a letter from his wife, Abigail: "John, in the new code of laws, remember the ladies. . . Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of the husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could. . .. We will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or representation."
But when the Founding Fathers sat down to write the Declaration and the Constitution, they left out one critical word: "Women."
The Long Struggle
And when at last women won their voting rights in 1920, they didn't get it the easy way. Beginning in the mid-19th century, generations of women devoted several years of their lives and constant interest to lecture, write, march and preach for a radical change in the constitution. Many of them who began the movement were not even alive when Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment which read, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."
Did anybody say anything about Kuwaiti Women? This autocratic state has long claimed to be a democracy - the so-called ideal state in a region that has known only benign autocracies. But the facade of democracy all but crumbled a few weeks ago, when the all-male parliament denied women the right to vote and hold public office. The underlying power game was exposed as some hardcore fundamentalists voiced their 'generous' readiness to franchise women provided that they are not allowed to run for public office. "Stay in your homes with your children", an elderly parlimentarian advised.
Opinions have to be divided and sides to be taken, but no one can disagree that voting rights will defenitly bring about wide range of changes in women's social, moral, educational and economic status. The crucial role women played during the turbulent years of the Gulf war cannot be lightly brushed under the carpet.
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