Kuwait has appointed its first female cabinet minister, a month after parliament agreed to let women vote and stand for office.

Massouma al-Mubarak, a political science professor and columnist, was named as planning minister and minister for administrative development.

She told AFP news agency it was "a great honour for Kuwaiti women and appreciation of their struggle".

Women will be able to take part in parliamentary elections in 2007.

The law was passed by parliament last month but it came too late for municipal polls on 2 June.

Ms Mubarak replaces Sheikh Ahmad al-Abdullah al-Sabah in her new posts.

Her appointment comes a week after the government named two women as members of its municipal council, the first women appointed to the body.

The Emir of Kuwait has backed female suffrage in the face of strong opposition from tribal and Islamist factions in parliament, the BBC's Gulf correspondent Julia Wheeler reports.

The recent changes in Kuwait mean that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the only Gulf States that do not give women the right to vote and stand for public office.

The source…
I think this is great news, and it’s certainly a huge step forward.