Kuwait's parliament passed a law on Monday granting women the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/18/88/350/14418_reform.html ' target=_blank>right to vote and run in elections, for the first time in the pro-Western Gulf Arab state.
Kuwaiti women lining the podium burst into cheers when parliament speaker Jassim al-Khorafi said the legislation had been passed by a majority of the all-male parliament to grant full suffrage to women.
"We made it. This is history," said prominent activist Roula al-Dashti. "Our target is the parliamentary polls in 2007. I'm starting my campaign from today," she told reporters.
There were 35 in favor, 23 against, and one abstention on the vote that had met fierce resistance from Islamists and other MPs.
Women activists said it was too late for women to vote and run for the municipal elections set for June 2.
Parliament said earlier this month women could not vote in June municipal polls after delays to a vote on a limited bill that would have allowed women to participate. But it said similar polls in 2009 could be opened to them, informs Reuters.
The bill does not allow women to participate in next month's &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/cis/2002/10/21/38431.html ' target=_blank>municipal elections.
Although Kuwaiti women have reached high positions in oil, education and the diplomatic corps, the country's 1962 election law limited political rights to men.
Women activists have for years been pushing for the right to vote and run for parliament, but several attempts to give them political rights have been defeated.
Massouma al-Mubarak, a political analyst and professor at Kuwait University, said the parliament approval was long overdue.
Allowing women to vote could more than double the number of registered voters in Kuwait. Previously, the vote was restricted to men over 21 who were not members of the police force or military — about 139,000 registered voters. If all women over 21 registered, that total could reach 339,000.