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Women in Politics

First women elected to Kuwait's Parliament; Kuwait City, Kuwait. © AP Images
First women elected to Kuwait's Parliament; Kuwait City, Kuwait.

Overview

While the past decade has seen the expansion of women’s suffrage and a doubling of the number of women elected to office region-wide, the level of women’s political and civic engagement in the MENA region continues to be the lowest in the world. MEPI supports projects to increase the level of women’s participation in building democratic, pluralistic societies through projects that train women to run for office, advance their leadership skills, and help them advocate for legislation that promotes women’s rights in their home countries.

Recent Projects

Morocco - The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) trained nearly 4,000 women candidates in preparation for Morocco’s June 2009 municipal elections, where the government had established a 12% quota for women’s seats. Women exceeded the quota by winning 12.3% of the seats outright, marking a dramatic increase from only 0.5% of seats they held previously.  Of note, half the women elected were under the age of 35, and 20% of the women trained by IRI and NDI won seats.

Kuwait - The National Democratic Institute’s (NDI’s) Expanding Support for Political Reform project is designed to strengthen democratic processes in the Gulf.  In Kuwait, NDI is empowering political groups to organize and run effective campaigns at the local and national levels.  The four women members of parliament elected in 2009 all received MEPI assistance through training programs implemented by NDI and American University and have been active in promoting civic reforms since becoming parliamentarians.