KUWAIT CITY — The Kuwaiti government has appointed its first female Cabinet minister, a month after lawmakers in this oil-rich nation granted women the right to vote and run for office, state-owned television reported Sunday.
Political science teacher Massouma al-Mubarak, a women's rights activist and columnist, was given the planning and administrative development portfolios, Prime Minister Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah was quoted as saying.
"I'm happy," al-Mubarak, 54, told The Associated Press. "This honor is not bestowed on my person but on every woman who fought to prove that Kuwaiti women are capable."
Al-Mubarak's appointment needs to be approved by the emir, Sheik Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah, and issued in a decree. That move is procedural; the emir has been a strong proponent of women's rights.
Al-Mubarak said she needed time to study the plans at the ministry before she speaks of her own plans.
The two portfolios she is taking were previously held by Sheik Ahmed Abdullah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, who is also the communications minister.
Al-Mubarak has a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Denver, in the U.S. state of Colorado. She has taught political science at Kuwait University since 1982 and writes a daily column for Al-Anba newspaper.
Her appointment became possible last month, when Parliament passed a law allowing women to vote and run for public office for the first time in the history of this small oil-rich state.
According to the 1962 constitution, Cabinet members should be eligible to vote in parliamentary elections.
When al-Mubarak takes up her post, she -- like other Cabinet ministers -- will be able to vote in the legislature.
Kuwaiti women have reached high positions in oil, education and the diplomatic corps, but had demanded political rights, which were opposed by fundamentalist Muslims and tribal lawmakers.
Women can now vote in all Middle Eastern nations where elections are held except Saudi Arabia. The Gulf nations of Bahrain, Qatar and Oman all had their first elections in recent years and have allowed women to cast ballots.
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