“I am not weak”: Qatari girls unsuccessful in first legislative elections


DOHA, Oct 3 (Reuters) – Voters selected not one of the 26 girls who stood for election in Qatar’s first legislative elections on Saturday, disappointing candidates who had wished to lend a voice for ladies and different Qataris within the Gulf monarchy’s political course of.

The vote was for 30 members of the 45-seat advisory Shura Council whereas the emir will proceed to nominate the remaining 15 members of the physique that may approve a restricted scope of insurance policies for the small however rich nation, which bans political events. learn extra

“To have all men is not the vision of Qatar,” stated Aisha Hamam al-Jasim, 59, a nursing supervisor who ran in Doha’s Markhiya district. She urged Qatari girls to begin “voicing what they believe in” and vote for robust girls candidates in future.

“For the first time in Qatar, this is the opportunity to take part in the political,” she stated as folks trickled into the polls earlier on Saturday.

Jasim, like fellow feminine candidates, stated she had encountered some males who thought girls mustn’t run. Highlighting her administrative abilities, she centered on coverage priorities like well being, youth employment and retirement.

“I just say: I’m strong, I’m capable. I see myself as fit as a man … If you want to see me as weak, that’s up to you, but I am not weak,” she stated within the polling station the place women and men had separate entrances.

While Qatar has launched reforms to girls’s rights in recent times, together with permitting girls to independently get a driving license, it has been criticised by rights teams for points just like the guardianship system, the place a girl wants male permission to marry, journey and entry reproductive healthcare.

Human Rights Watch in March stated that when in 2019 girls tweeted from an nameless account about Qatar’s guardianship system, the account shut down inside 24 hours after cyber safety officers summoned one girl. learn extra

Naima Abdulwahab al-Mutaawa’a, a candidate and overseas ministry employee whose aged mom got here to vote for her, had wished to press for a physique advocating for ladies and kids.

Several feminine candidates had been looking for to enhance the mixing into Qatari society of kids of feminine residents married to foreigners who, like in different Gulf states, can not go their Qatari nationality to their kids.

Qatar has one feminine minister: Public Health Minister Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari.

While Jasim stopped wanting advocating for granting passports, fellow candidate Leena al-Dafa known as for full citizenship for kids in such instances.

Dafa, a author, doesn’t see those that oppose girls within the Shura Council as an impediment as a result of the ruling emir – and the regulation – help feminine participation.

“The law gives me this right … I don’t care what aggressive people say about that,” she stated, including that girls had been finest suited to debate their points.

Al-Maha al-Majid, a 34-year-old industrial engineer stood for election, alongside her insurance policies, to alter mindsets.

“To convince the males (to vote for women), yes, we may have to put in work or extra effort … I’m willing to take this extra effort in order to be in and to convince this society that the women can do so,” she stated.

For some, attitudes are arduous to shake.

Male candidate Sabaan Al Jassim, 65, helps girls standing in elections however stated their major position stays within the household.

“They are here, they have their fingerprint and they have their vote and a voice … But most important is in the house, to take care of the kids with the families,” he stated at a polling station the place Jasim and Mutaawa’a sat throughout the room from him.

Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Sandra Maler

Al-Maha Al-Majid, a candidate in Qatar's Shura Council election, poses for a photo next to an election poster in Doha, Qatar September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

Voters line up at a polling station in the Gulf Arab state's first legislative elections for two-thirds of the advisory Shura Council, in Doha, Qatar October 2, 2021. REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

Al-Maha Al-Majid, a candidate in Qatar's Shura Council election, poses for a photo next to an election poster in Doha, Qatar September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari