The female candidates making history at Qatar's elections
The news has been received well by Qatari citizens who will now be able to vote for two-thirds of the candidates at the Shura Council. Making strides towards equality, Qatar has also opened the election to female candidates – news that was widely celebrated across the country.
In fact, since the announcement, dozens of Qatari women have registered their interest to represent their district. Now, as the election approaches, 28 Qatari women hope to gain a seat in their respective districts.
Electoral campaigning in Qatar came to an end on Friday. The two-week campaign window for the council election was brought to an end 24 hours before voting begins on Saturday. Polling stations will open their doors at 8 am and shut at 6 pm, according to the Qatari interior ministry, which has urged citizens to make their vote count. Qataris will elect 30 members of the 45-seat Shura Council on 2 October, while Al Thani will continue to appoint the remaining 15 members.
"Qatari women entered the elections with great conviction and readiness that they want to serve society as a whole and women in particular"
Being elected on the Shura Council is a great opportunity for Qatari women to propose amendments in some laws that protect women’s rights and give them more of a say in decision-making.
However, the news that women can participate in elections comes as no surprise to Qatari citizens, who have seen women’s rights brought to the forefront by prominent members of the royal family in the last few decades.
Most notably there’s Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al Missned, who pushed for historic societal reforms in the early 2000s.
So, who’s paving the way for women at the Shura Council elections? We look at some of the most prominent candidates.
Mariam Kamal Al-Muslamani
Al-Muslamani aspires to have a voice and presence in her community by representing her district in the Shura council, which she describes as “the highest legislative council in the country”. She explains that being part of this council will enable her to voice concerns and lead to change.
Al-Muslamani continues to explain how, by being elected, she can show that a Qatari woman can, not only reach the highest legislative council in the country but also implement strategies and laws that complement religious beliefs and social values.
Al-Muslamni also credits Qatar’s more progressive views towards women to Sheikha Mozah, who she describes as “our main supporter and role model” for being a pioneer in this field. “She worked to give women a place in society and to ensure they received knowledge and education, which has made her a hero to all Qatari women,” Al-Muslamani explains.
Aisha Jassim Al Kuwari
Al Kuwari believes that in order for Qatari citizens to make a positive contribution to politics, they must all participate.
She strongly believes that by being elected she can help to protect the direct interests of Qatari women, especially around women's employment.
“Legislators did not discriminate between men and women when enacting the election laws, and Qatari women have gained both the knowledge and education required for them to occupy high positions in government,” she explains.
Al Kuwari also believes that women’s participation and presence on the Shura Council is important because “there are certain issues that women connect with and understand differently to men, such as women’s rights, particularly for those who are divorced or widows.”
"As a woman, I aspire to have a voice and presence in my community and to be represented in the highest legislative council in the country"
Al Maha Jassim Al Majed
Al Majed believes that by allowing women to participate in this year’s elections and have the opportunity to be represented in legislative bodies they can better serve the Qatari women.
“We want to be represented more in the upcoming Shura Council,” she explains. “I have an important point in my electoral programme that concerns women, which is the demand for a quota for women in the Legislative and Executive Council.”
Fatma Ghanem Muhammad Saad Al Kubaisi
Al Kubaisi’s aspirations for this year’s elections surpasses the mere representation of Qatari women. “My electoral programme is based on a vision that aims to achieve comprehensive and sustainable development whose effects are positively reflected on the life of the citizens through the use of constitutional tools,” she explains.
“Building a sustainable and competitive economy, which provides opportunities to create good projects because students today are educated and their ambitions are more than just a job.”
[Quotes taken from The Peninsula and Doha News]
Sami Rahman is a freelance lifestyle writer based in London.
Follow her on Twitter: @bysamirahman