I was honored to be able to work with women in Kuwait on strategies to increase their voice and strengthen their leadership. Women in Kuwait were granted the right to vote and run for office in 2005, after years of efforts to push for suffrage. Momentum increased for women’s suffrage during the 2003 parliamentary elections, combined with renewed international pressure and a government that favored women’s rights, provided the necessary political space for real change to begin in Kuwait. In 2004, throughout their struggle to gain the right to vote, Kuwaiti activists maintained their efforts to make sure that the issue remained at the forefront of public and political discourse.
In May 2005, after 40 years of continued determination, Kuwaiti women were extended the right to vote and run for office. With snap Parliamentary elections called practically every six months, it has bee challenging to keep up momentum. Best practices for increasing women´s participation in the MENA region continue, and include: bringing together civil society activists or experts and electoral candidates and staff; facilitating mentorship between experienced and emerging women leaders; targeting pre-professional women, who have traditionally been an under-served demographic in women’s electoral support programs, in addition to students; targeting and engaging male candidates and supporters; and supporting women’s networks through online engagement.