Political rights

Women in Kuwait granted full political rights – Middle East Monitor


Kuwait became one of the first countries in the Middle East to grant full political rights to women. Gulf news agencies reported that the oil-rich state granted full voting rights after decades of campaigning by women’s rights activists.

Welcoming Kuwait’s progressive approach, regional media commented on the leading role played by women in the country’s overall development in all sectors, including public works, social services, economy and politics.

Opportunities for women are now said to exist in all areas of society with many high profile jobs neglecting men for the benefit of women.

The journey to full political rights has been a long one, but the course was set in the 1990s, when women were said to have played a major role in coordinating resistance against Saddam Hussein’s invasion of the Gulf State in August 1990.

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Since then, women have overcome one obstacle after another to achieve equality; a rarity in the region dominated by powerful men. Dr Rasha Al Sabah was one of the pioneers. She held the post of first undersecretary of the Ministry of Higher Education in 1993. Others like Nabila Al Mulla have followed her approach. She was appointed Kuwait’s first Ambassador to Zimbabwe and South Africa in 1993. Mulla was then appointed in 2003 as Permanent Representative to the United Nations to become the first Muslim Arab Ambassador to the world organization.

In Kuwait, women have opposed the trend and have held leadership positions in several municipal, national and international positions that are normally reserved for men. They have achieved success in many areas, proving that they are half the community and cannot be marginalized.

Progress has continued and, more recently, women have been appointed ministers in several fields, including the Minister of State for Housing Affairs, who was assigned to Dr Jenan Bushahri in 2017. A similar rise to the top has seen Hind Barak Al Subaih appointed Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and Minister of State for Planning and Development.