Qatar’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, gives a speech to the Shura Council in Doha, Qatar, November 3, 2020. Qatar News Agency/Handout via REUTERS
Qatar’s emir named two women among his new appointments to the Gulf state’s advisory Shura Council on Thursday, after partial elections held for the first time earlier this month saw not one of the more than 20 women candidates secure a seat.
In what was Qatar’s first legislative election, candidates competed for 30 of the 45 seats on the council. The emir continues to appoint the remaining 15 members of the body, which has limited sway over policies in the monarchy, which bans political parties.
Dashing hopes for a stronger voice for women in the Gulf monarchy, voters elected an all-male line-up for the council which has included a small number of women in the past.
A statement by the office of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani listed two women — Sheikha bint Yousef Al-Jufairi and Hamda bint Hassan al-Sulaiti — among the newly appointed members.
Neither woman ran in the elections.
While Qatar has introduced reforms to women’s rights in recent years, including allowing women to independently get a driving license, it has been criticised by rights groups for issues like the guardianship system, where a woman needs male permission to marry, travel and access reproductive healthcare.
Kuwait has been the only Gulf monarchy to give substantial powers to an elected parliament, although ultimate decision-making rests with its ruler, as in neighbouring states.