(AFP) – May 18, 2009
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that the election of the first women to Kuwait's parliament is a "major step forward" for Kuwait, the region and the world.
"This did not come easily or quickly," Clinton said after Kuwaiti women at the weekend won their first ever seats in the oil-rich Gulf state's parliament, with four women elected according to official results.
"Starting in the 1990s I supported the women who were brave enough to stand up and say 'women should be able to serve,'" the chief US diplomat told graduates of Barnard College, a women's university in New York City.
"It took a long struggle but the election of four women this Saturday is a major step forward for Kuwait, the region, and I would argue, the world," Clinton said.
In the commencement address carried by webcast, Clinton said that despite progress in Kuwait and other countries, the "marginalization of women and girls goes on."
But she said the world now has better communications tools, from radio to the Internet, to fight the problem.
Kuwaitis voted on Saturday to elect their second parliament in a year after Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah dissolved the outgoing parliament following a standoff between MPs and the government.
Kuwaiti women, who make up 54.3 percent of the 385,000 eligible voters, were running in the elections for only the third time after they were enfranchised in 2005, but no women won seats in the previous two elections.
Sixteen women were among the 210 candidates who ran for the parliament's 50 seats.
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