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Women make electoral history in Kuwait

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Women make electoral history in Kuwait

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In a moment of major symbolic significance in Kuwait, women have been casting their ballots and standing as candidates for the first time in a parliamentary election. There are only 28 female contenders out of 253 and few observers give any of them a chance of winning high office but they are hoping to at least make a dent in the armour of the male-dominated establishment.

A law passed last year gave women the right to vote and run for parliament in this oil-producing Arab state. The move was hailed by its ally Washington as a big step forward for democracy. But Islamists and conservatives were against the bill and have insisted that men and women cast their ballots in separate polling stations.

Still, with women making up 57 percent of eligible voters, pundits say there is a chance a few will be elected. That would bolster the pro-reform opposition which accuses the government of trying to turn parliament into a rubber-stamp assembly.