Women in Politics
Madeline Albright, Hillary Clinton, Eva Peron (Evita), Indira Gandhi, has anyone ever wondered why the previously mentioned names are of great significance? These women politicians are considered outstanding; they are classified as "extraordinary" due to their personalities, influences and abilities. Is the world aware of the importance women politicians present? Are they receiving what they deserve of honor and respect? We, at Datamatix believe that women have tremendous potential to succeed in various fields, especially in politics. We believe women have the ability to make a big difference in the world if they are given a chance to prove themselves. The stereotypical belief that many people hold about women in politics has become an unfair and unbearable phenomenon. Some people believe that politics is an unsuitable profession for women and that woman should be universally excluded from the political process. This, as we assume, resulted from the stereotypical beliefs about sexes: a few people are influenced by the idea that women are less motivated to hold high political positions and the ability to effect change is limited. However, if we display the accomplishments of only a few women politicians that succeed in their domain we will see that this assumption is not true. Although several problems acted as stumbling blocks that prevented a few women from succeeding in the field of politics. However, some were able to overcome the intricacy they encountered.
Gandhi, Thatcher, Bhutto
In 1959, India accepted its first woman prime minister. Indira Gandhi was elected president, and then she started her journey of success. Indira's involvement in the independence movement was due to the inspiration she got from her parent's political activism. One of the significant stages of her life was 1947, when she acted as her father's "First Lady" at important events, such as, speeches, funerals, important meetings and conferences with leaders from all over the world. She was always ready to fight and was always willing to improve India's relation with other countries.
Mentioning Margaret Thatcher is required to provide support and a great image of an extraordinary woman. She was the first woman to hold the position, "more than any British prime minister in 150 years." Margaret was considered the youngest person to run for parliament; she was the first lady appointed secretary of state for education and science. In addition, she was chosen to serve in Prime Minister Edward Heath's Cabinet, the first and only women to receive this position. She held great responsibilities and was a hardworking person. Thatcher embodied ideal leadership, where she tightly held her beliefs despite strong public opposition.
Having a strong will, along with unthinkable courage, Benazir Bhutto was able to seek her position as the first prime minister as the first prime minister of a Muslim nation in 1987. Since Muslim women, in countries or regions that have religious fundamentalists, have few rights, her accomplishment is outstanding. Although she struggled to maintain her position as prime minister, she was removed out of office in 1990, but was able to regain her position few years later in 1993.
Women and political participation the Middle East
Just as the rest of the world has had great women leaders, the Middle East also has had its fair share of women leaders, who have fought for raising the status of women in a predominantly Islamic society. One such example is Hoda Sha'rawi, pioneer of the feminist movement; Hoda Sha'rawi was an early pioneer of Egyptian Feminist movement. One of the few women who participated in the national resistance against British occupation of Egypt, she also advocated equal opportunity for women. The head of the first women's society in Egypt, she was also elected vice-president of the international women's association and president of the Arab women's association. She was an ideal for many other feminist leaders who followed her. She led the first women's demonstration in Egypt in 1919, formed the ‘Wafd Party's Central Committee on Women', advocated girls education and equal opportunities for women in education and employment, represented Egyptians in about 14 international women's conferences. She formed the Arab Women's Association to discuss the Palestine issue, and she called for the prevention of nuclear weapons, particularly after the Hiroshima bombing and many other major achievements.
Another example is Hanan Ashrawi, a politician and academic, she graduated from American University of Beirut and University of Virginia. She was the spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a member of Palestinian Legislative Council in 1996. In 1996-98, she became Minister for Higher Education, Human Rights Commissioner for Palestine; in 2001, she became the Media Director and Spokesperson for Arab League, and in 1974 activist for Palestinian women's movement. "A passion for peace" (1994), and "This side of peace" (1995) are some of her publications.
Suzanne Mubarak of Egypt is another example; She attended the UN Fourth International Conference on Women in Beijing, September 1995, the UN University Meeting, Tokyo in April 1995, UN International Conference on Population and Development NGO Forum, Cairo, September 1994 and Cairo Africa First Ladies Seminar on the Status of Women and Children in Cairo, June 1993. She won many international awards, such as World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) award on June 24, 2000, International Tolerance Prize awarded by the European Academy for Sciences and Arts on August 15, 1998. Soka University bestowed upon Mrs. Mubarak its Award of Highest Honour in April 1995. Mrs. Mubarak received the ‘International Book Committee, International Book Award' in April 1995, in recognition of her outstanding efforts to promote reading in Egypt. The Health for All Gold Medal, the highest distinction awarded by the World Health Organization has been conferred upon Mrs. Mubarak.
Women and Politics in Kuwait
One of the most pressing issues in Kuwait today is women's suffrage. In May 1999, the Amir issued a decree granting women the right to vote and hold elected office, but the measure was struck down by the National Assembly in November 1999. Supporters have vowed to continue to push for full political rights, and the government has indicated it will again submit a bill to parliament in the next term. Not only did women play a major role in liberating their country during the Gulf War, but they have also proven active in several social and cultural organizations that routinely call for political rights. Many of these organizations such as the Women Affairs Committee, Kuwait's Union of Women Societies and other predominantly female organizations, have organized campaigns and conferences to protest the exclusion of women in the political arena. Kuwaiti women have been members of international women's rights organizations as well, and participated in the 1995 Women's Conference in Beijing. Kuwaiti women have on several occasions protested against their political ban; they have routinely marched on the National Assembly holding signs and banners demanding political rights; on other occasions, they have marched into voter registration centers in police stations demanding to receive their political rights. Islam is not against women's political rights; in fact, under Islamic Law all human beings are equal. Despite the obstacles, however, women are fighting their way into politics. Recently, Kuwaiti lawmakers approved a bill allowing women to vote and run in local council elections. A second vote is needed, followed by the Kuwaiti ruling emir's signature, but this is generally a formality.
Some of the prominent Kuwaiti women are Dr. Rasha Al-Sabah, Under-Secretary of Higher Education and one of the Amir's most trusted advisors. Named International Woman of the Year for 1996-1997 by the International Biographical Center (IBC) in Cambridge, England, Dr. Rasha Al-Sabah has exerted most of her efforts in the fields of education, culture, and women's causes. Nabila Al-Mulla, was Appointed as Kuwait's first female Ambassador. She was formerly a deputy permanent representative of Kuwait at the United Nations. She is presently serving as Kuwait's Ambassador to Austria. Fayza Al-Khorafi, She was distinguished scholar and professor. She is an accomplished scientist, and the first Arab woman to be appointed Rector of an Arab university (1993). Sara Akbar, a Petroleum engineer, member of the Kuwait Oil Company since 1981. Played a distinguished role in extinguishing the oil fires following the Gulf War and cleaning up one of the worst environmental disasters in history. She received the 'Global 500' award from the United Nations Environmental Program in recognition of her work. Badriya Al-Awadi is considered the top legal expert on human rights and women's rights in Kuwait. She holds a Ph.D. in international law, has published over ten books, and has taught law at Kuwait University for the past seven years. Ms. Al-Awadi's concerns include eliminating illiteracy and raising awareness of women's legal and political rights.
Many people are talking today about the crisis in both the economy and in the financial-banking sector, as well as in politics. Issues like the population's patience come up; some forecast a societal revolt, and so on. But it is odd that when discussing a crisis in popular trust, the subject of "women and power" is not discussed. They assure women that politics is not for them, and that to be involved in politics is a male affair. It is true that one cannot say women have no responsibility for this situation: after all, they themselves allowed others to decide their fate without their active political participation in deciding their country's destiny. Meanwhile, the burden of daily life under conditions lies precisely on women's shoulders.
Today it is important to understand: what benefit can society overall gain from a state and political leadership that is based on the partnership of men and women in politics? The answer is simple: the partnership of men and women in politics is the source of a more full and representative democracies, in as much as it creates real opportunities to take into account multiple interests in society.
Women are not only better than men are at representing their own interests, but are able to influence the political system by taking decision-making roles. "Finally, the time has come when it's become an advantage not to be a man. After all, men achieved the state budget deficit, radioactive dumps, the financial collapse of credit banks and many other misfortunes. Women turned out to be in a beneficial position - they were not involved in deciding on all these issues," so wrote the American, Margaret Carlson, characterizing the situation in her own country. Today, the defense of women's rights as human rights is a general task for all women, without regard to their social status and ideological preferences.