By Majd Othman
KUWAIT: Women’s participation in political life in Kuwait in the last few years has been experiencing a severe weakness at all levels, starting from their poor participation in elections in the country, such as those of the National Assembly, Municipal Council or cooperative societies, to not holding any political gatherings and seminars that discuss women’s issues.
This month for example, only one woman ran and lost in the Municipal Council election, which is considered one of the most essential political platforms for all sectors in the country, such as monitoring the implementation of laws and regulations for general health and education, and for the approval and organizing of construction and urban projects.
Declining political performance, frustration among women and stereotyping are the reasons for women’s absence from participating in political life in Kuwait, according to former minister of social affairs Ghadeer Aseeri. “Politicians who consider themselves opponents of women’s rights are far from knowing anything about the Kuwaiti constitution,” Aseeri told Kuwait Times.
She added that the education system in Kuwait, directly or indirectly, calls to isolate women politically, referring to electoral lists and events at local universities that are exclusively for men. “Fake accounts on social media have succeeded to typecast in society’s mind a negative image about women who participate in elections and wear specific types of clothes,” she said.
Meanwhile, “the parliament has neglected women’s issues for a very long time, such as the personal status law, divorce law, housing rights,” or scrapping the law that requires women to obtain approval from their male guardians to carry out medical procedures, she added. As a result, Aseeri said women are not participating in political life in Kuwait, because of the “general feeling of frustration among them”.
Regarding solutions to empower women in political life, Aseeri emphasized “passing a women’s quota law is the only way to achieve our goal, and we expect it to be approved soon”. “A quota is an international system that was approved to give members of a society equal rights. It’s a globally successful system and used in more than 100 countries around the world,” she said.
On the other hand, Aseeri pointed out that the absence of women from political life affects the level of education and increases violence against women. Aseeri added the world notices women’s absence in diplomatic representation or in leadership positions at embassies, which shows inequality in giving women their rights in Kuwait.
Women in Kuwait have been demanding in the past years several basic rights, especially for Kuwaiti women who have married men of a different nationality, such as granting citizenship and permanent residence for their children, housing rights for divorced women, the right to obtain official documents and certificates for their children and scrapping a law that approves marrying or divorcing a woman without her knowledge.