01/23/2008, 00.00
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No confidence vote against Kuwait’s ‘Iron Lady’ fails

Education Minister Nouriya al-Sabeeh, the only woman in active politics in Kuwait, gets to keep her job. Only 19 MPs out of 48 want her out. Ms al-Sabeeh pledges to continue with reforms and to fight against the country’s conservative tendencies.

Kuwait City (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Nouriya al-Sabeeh, Kuwait’s only woman in active politics, will keep her job as education minister. She won a no confidence vote in parliament yesterday by 27 votes in favour, including the speaker, 19 against and 2 abstentions. Her impeachment would have prompted a government crisis. Members of the Islamic group and tribal MPs sought to oust her.

In her address to parliament, Ms al-Sabeeh, who dresses Western-style without veil, told her fellow lawmakers that she would continue her work to improve education standards and pursue political reforms.

The vote saves the government from a crisis that some feared and others sought. A minister’s impeachment would have indeed caused a crisis between the government and parliament with its large Islamic bloc.

Ms al-Sabeeh, who sits as an independent and has wide support among Westernised liberals, has been dubbed Kuwait's ‘Iron Lady’ for standing up to the nation's conservatives.

We're so happy we can fly,” said a woman school principal. “This is a victory for Kuwaiti women.” Let the other “half of society work and watch the results,” she added.

Many women activists believe the attack against al-Sabeeh was an attempt to remove the only female Cabinet member in a country that still does not totally accept women in politics.

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