Women’s Political Engagement in Oman

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For the first time in Oman Municipal Council, only women are representing an entire province. When Oman held its Muncipal Council elections in December 2016, Mariam Al Shamsi and Latifa Al Manei won the only seats for the Sunnainah province of the Buraimi governorate. With only seven women securing seats in the 202-member body, the number seems low but it is much higher than in the 2012 elections when only four women made it to the council. Oman seems to be pushing forward and realizing the importance of women in political office — albeit slowly. “It is just a matter of time,” Al Shamsi, 36, told Gulf News. “Men will gradually accept us in public office.” Before running for municipal council office, Al Shamsi and Al Manei were active members of their community, regularly volunteering their time at charities. When she decided to run in the Municipal Council elections, some men in her community refused to talk to her, as conservative social attitudes generally frown upon women in public office. “I did not let it affect me,” she told Gulf News. “I knew sooner or later they would have to accept me, and that is exactly what happened. Now they come talk to me directly if they have any requests for municipal services.”

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