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Women still denied voting rights

New Delhi, Sat, 12 May 2007 Noor En Ahmed

May 12: In an election fever world where everybody is waiting for the results, there are some unfortunate countries which do not allow the women to use their right for selecting their representatives. In at least six countries women have no right because of vague reasons. Two countries UAE and Brunei do not have any electoral system at present. The remaining countries are Bhutan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Vatican City.

In this emancipated era, when we talks about women’s right, human rights and gender equality, it is really poignant that half of the society is assessed as not eligible for the very basic liberal right. The West is no exception to it. They claim to be completely impartial and developed and at the same time deny the fundamental right. Any protest or mere raising a voice against the voting rights is prohibited in these subjugated parts of the world. This makes the life of women extremely tough and difficult because they can’t confront the society due to lack of power.

In two major Muslim countries in Asia, UAE and Brunei have no electoral system. UAE has a federal structure and includes six smaller nations in which no election system has been developed so far. The desired system is likely to be in place by 2010 and hopefully women will also be able to play an active part in this system. Brunei on the other hand exists as a sultanate and there are no provisions for an election process. Though the cabinet has advised the sultanate to develop a system in which women will play a crucial role.

The two holy places Saudi Arabia and Vatican City are also devoid of having voting rights for women. Both the countries are known for their conservative attitude and strict rules and regulation. In Saudi Arabia, an election was held in 2005 in which only males were allowed to cast their votes. There are very few indication that women’s voting right would happen someday in the future. Vatican City, also a conservative country like Saudi Arabia, is the most respectable place for Christians. Only one election is held in Vatican and it is Papal Conclave, in which there are only male cardinals. It is assumed, if women are allowed to be cardinal, they can also participate in papal conclave.

In the two remaining nations, women are in theory allowed to vote, but in practice it is seldom observed. These are Bhutan and Lebanon. There is no law restriction but conventional obstacles make it difficult for the women to vote. In Bhutan only single member of the family can participate in voting and it is most probably the male, because woman is not allowed to go outside and leave her house hold works. This may however change in 2008, as new parliamentary democracy is going to be introduced in the same year. While as in Lebanon, education eligibility is the condition for being a women voter and there is not such condition for the male. An illiterate male can vote independently, whereas a woman voter must be educated up to an elementary level for voting.

With this picture in mind one can safely say that the dark clouds still loom over our so called modern civilization. We may have stepped on the moon or tomorrow build houses on Mars, but our failure to make this world a better place for everyone calls for no celebrations.

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Michelle Hamaoui

September 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Next time you are going to write an article, make sure your research is correct. Women in Lebanon are allowed to vote, like men. The only pre-requisite to both is to be 21 years old. This is ridiculous especially coming from a journalist.


February 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

From where did you get your information about the situation of women participation in elections in Lebanon.. it is ALL FALSE.



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