With parliamentary elections less than 24-hours away, Kuwaiti women are determined to win seats based on merit. They serve as a great model for neighboring Saudi Arabia where women don’t even have the right to vote.

Whether swathed in Islamic veils or dressed in Western suits, Kuwaiti women are campaigning hard to win parliamentary seats in Saturday’s election.

They failed to take any at the last vote in 2006 and once again face an uphill struggle attracting voters in a conservative and male-dominated Gulf Arab state.

“There are a lot of challenges but there is also a positive wave… voters think why not try women? We tried men for years,” said Rola Dashti, one of 27 women running against 246 men.

Kuwait’s 50-member National Assembly passed a law in 2005 granting women the right to vote and run for office for the first time since its creation in 1962.

Some have suggested introducing a quota for women in the assembly, a system already in place in several Arab countries.

But many women are opposed to such positive discrimination and would prefer to win on merit, even if it takes years.

Hessah Mohammed, another female voter, said: “God willing women will enter the parliament. If there are qualified and capable women … women will win.”

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