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Kuwaiti women playing an important role in society

Councilmember tackles pollution, traffic crisis

By Faten Omar

KUWAIT: Kuwaiti women play an important role in society and have made significant contributions to various fields in the country. In recent years, Kuwaiti women have gained more opportunities to participate in politics, business and other sectors of society. In an exclusive interview, Municipal Councilmember Sharifa Al-Shalfan told Kuwait Times that Kuwaiti women have been proving themselves since the sixties, when they were among the first Gulf women to study abroad in Britain, Egypt and Lebanon.

“Kuwaiti women are now ambassadors, ministers and bank executives in the private sector. Kuwaiti women’s achievements have reached the highest levels. Today, the confidence of the Kuwaiti leadership is appreciated in supporting women to enhance these achievements. The presence of women in these positions is important, because it gives young girls encouragement and motivation that women are capable of anything,” she said.

Shalfan is one of four women appointed to the Kuwait Municipal Council for the first time. She said women are now offering a new point of view to the council. “The presence of women today in the Municipal Council contributed to the interest in the environmental aspect, as women see the current problems from another perspective,” she said.

“The woman is a mother, and we women see pollution is increasing in Kuwait. I have children with asthma. When I go to the hospital, I see it is full of sick children with masks. It hurts my heart. All of this is because of us and due to air pollution. Environmental campaigns are not just a slogan. Environmental pollution affects our health and the health of our children,” she explained.

On the issue of landfills, Shalfan said members of the Municipal Council visited three landfills for household waste, where waste is dumped and covered with a layer of sand daily. “There must be an insulator so that the waste does not decompose into the soil, thus affecting groundwater and emitting gases,” she said. She noted that there is no health or environmental control, as workers sort the waste by hand with no protection. “The situation is not good. We are working with the Municipality to try to fix this situation and put in place regulation for solid waste management.”

Regarding the traffic crisis, she said among the simple solutions to resolve the problem is to control traffic and regulate taxis, bicycles, motorcycles and public transportation, pointing out that the law must be strictly applied to everyone. “Also, we can adopt the rapid bus transit system and set special lanes on highways for buses to make their destination easier to reach, as well as organizing regular buses in terms of expanding their routes to cover all areas and work on their timings,” Shalfan said.

Shalfan expressed the importance of focusing on the problem of stray dogs, as they cause inconvenience to residents living in several areas around Kuwait. “It is an issue of utmost importance, both from an animal rights perspective as well as the health and safety of people.” Proposal by Shalfan and several councilmembers discussed the dangerous diseases transmitted from dogs to humans and possible attacks by dogs. The suggestion was to open shelters for stray dogs in several areas and coordinate with the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources to limit the spread of dogs by removing them from the streets and finding a safe place for them.

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