Lone female CMC member against quota for women
DOHA SHEIKHA AL JUFAIRI, who made history in 2003 when she won election to the Central Municipal Council (CMC) from the Airport constituency, the first woman in the GCC ever to win a municipal election, is against reservation of seats for women in the CMC as demanded by many.
In an exclusive interview with Qatar Tribune, Sheikha al Jufairi answered a number of questions, ranging from her agenda after re-election, status of women in Qatar to the role women can play as equal partners of men in the nation-building.
In reply to a pointed question about quota for women in the municipal polls, the lone woman member of the outgoing council vehemently opposed the idea.
“I am against reserving seats for women.
I believe that competence is not gender- specific.
Therefore I reject the quota system.
I think both men and women should run for elections and the decision on who should be in the municipal council left to the voters.
Women do not need such a prop to enter the council, especially after they have proved their worth and their ability to participate in all activities of life whether political, economic or educational.
Now we have Qatari woman who are directors, ministers, professors and so on.
We have women who are taking part in the international fora and representing the country abroad.
I hope in near future we will see Qatari woman working as an ambassador too,” said Sheikha al Jufairi.
In 2007, she was elected with the highest margin of votes among 125 candidates in the fray, polling 96 percent of total votes cast in the airport constituency.
Currently, a member of the Central Municipal Council and Chairperson of the Legal Committee of the Council, Shiekha al Jufairi is seeking a fourth term as the CMC member, again from the airport constituency.
Asked how and when the idea to run for municipal elections was born, Sheikha al Jufairi said it came to her mind with the issuance of the Municipal Council Law by the Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani back in 1999.
The decree gives the right to Qatari men and women to run for elections.
“I wanted to change the way our community view women and prove that men and women are equal.
Thank God, I have achieved this goal through my success and achievements as a member in the Council,” al Jufairi said.
She added: “When I ran for my second term, I was the only female candidate; in the third election, we were three female candidates; and in the current polls there are four female contestants in the fray.
I think this signals a positive change in women’s participation in political life and governance.” She described women’s place in Qatari society as good and respectable and hoped that it would further change for the better with the change of time.
“If we compare women’s status in Qatar to that in Saudi Arabia, for instance, we find big differences in terms of political and social rights available to women.
In Saudi Arabia, women are still denied the right to drive, the right to elect or run for elections,” al Jufairi said.
She is, however, against reservation of seats for women in the municipal council.
She wants women to be elected on the basis of competence, not on the basis of gender.
About her agenda for the 2011 elections, the incumbent councillor said that when elected she would concentrate on improvement in the street lighting, extension of the sewage networks, in areas that don’t have sewers, establishment of a multi-purpose public place where people could organise social and national events.
“I will also demand an emergency health service to be opened at the health center besides the existing emergency service for kids as well as creation of more green areas and parks.”