At least 26 women candidates in Qatar stand out in the country's first parliamentary elections with their ambitious ideas and programs.
As the election campaign for Qatar's Shura Council, a parliamentary body, is coming to an end, the female candidates draw immense attention since only two women have withdrawn from the election campaign compared to the withdrawal of 53 male candidates from the beginning of the race.
Now, 284 candidates including at least 26 women are vying for 30 seats in the parliament. The remaining 15 seats will be appointed by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamed Al-Thani.
"It's an extremely positive step that women are part of this process," said Elham Fakhro, senior Gulf analyst at the International Crisis Group.
Expectedly, women presence in the parliament will bring vast opportunities for gender issues such as protecting women’s rights and giving them an expanded role in decision-making.
But Fakhro also adds that women participation may impact little by saying: "However, I think we do have to limit our expectations (of their influence)... as only 28 women are running for positions -- it really shouldn't be surprising."
Nevertheless, this does not prevent female candidates from pursuing their enthusiastic dreams for their country.
Here's what some of the women candidates are promising to people in their respective campaigns.
Gender wind in the Shura elections
One candidate, Leena al-Dafa is prioritizing concrete actions towards education for women, supporting female teachers and solving the issue of citizenship for the children of Qatari women.
''The most important issues for me are (citizenship of) children of Qatari women and documents. This is the most important issue that I adopted from the heart," Dafa said.
What Dafa implies by this is the problem of getting citizenship. Qatari citizenship can currently solely be inherited by children from their fathers, indicating the children of a Qatari woman who marries someone of another nationality will not be citizens.
"I think a nation can only stand up with the help of its children. That's why I became a candidate to be a part of the decision-making process for the people of Qatar," said Dafa while adding that she is proud to participate in the first democratic experience in Qatar, which will be written in history.
Al Maha Jassim Al Majed, a candidate of Constituency No 11. pointed out the many demands that women candidates seek to achieve while saying that the Shura Council is a chance to represent women and promote their issues more.
“I have an important point in my electoral programme that concerns women, which is the demand for a quota for women in the Legislative and Executive Council,'' she said, explaining her aims.
Another candidate Fatma Ahmed Al Kuwari's electoral programme involves matters such as home care, social security for housewives, and the issuance of women legislation.
She believes that there is a high probability of women succeeding.
“As we can see from voters support, we have a good chance of winning.”
Another candidate Fatma Ghanem Muhammad Saad Al Kubaisi focuses on achieving comprehensive and sustainable development to improve the lives of the citizens.
“Building a sustainable and competitive economy, which provides opportunities to create good projects because students today are educated and their ambitions are more than just a job,” Kubaisi said.
She also emphasized the necessity of preventing corruption and highlighted the importance of women empowerment in her country.
“It also includes administrative reform and prevention of corruption because corruption is the enemy of development and therefore it must be combated in addition to the empowerment of women and the importance of equalising them in many rights and the protection of their rights.”
Amal Isa al-Muhennadi, on the other hand, believes that the Elected Shura Council is an important element to support the political and economic development of the country.
For her, the election will signify an increased awareness of the public in decision-making which is a cornerstone moment for the country. In a statement to Anadolu Agency, she also said that there is a great interaction in society regarding the inclusion of women in political life.
"Speaking of democracy, we must acknowledge that one of its foundations is equality and allowing all, whether young or old, without gender discrimination. Qatar has moved forward in promoting citizen participation in decision-making and has shown that democracy is a practice rather than a slogan. Beginnings can stumble and fall short, but in the end, this democratic practice will inevitably take root.”