May 16... A Turning Point In Kuwaiti Women's Political Journey


(MENAFN- Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) By Shaima Al-Ruwaished
KUWAIT, May 16 (KUNA) -- May 16 each year marks a turning point in Kuwait's history for the Kuwaiti women, it marks the day they were granted political rights, enabling them to vote, run for office and assume leadership positions.
On May 16, 2005, the Kuwaiti National Assembly officially approved women's franchise, culminating an initiative launched by the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
The initiative of the late Amir was out of his belief in the importance of the role of women and his appreciation of women contributions to Kuwait development.
In the 2006 National Assembly elections, Kuwaiti women participated for the first time as candidates and voters and in the 2008 elections, 27 women ran for office, achieving record numbers of votes and in some constituencies surpassing those bagged by male candidates.
In the 2009 National Assembly elections, Kuwaiti women achieved a historic milestone in the country's democratic life when four women won seats in the Assembly among 17 female candidates: Dr. Massouma Al-Mubarak, Dr. Asseel Al-Awadhi, Dr. Rola Dashti and Dr. Salwa Al-Jassar.
Kuwaiti women have demonstrated their pioneering role in the country's development across various fields, from the pre-oil era to the present. They have held many supervisory and leadership positions, proving their exceptional capabilities and high competence.
Celebrating Kuwait Women's Day reaffirms and showcases the positive and pioneering role and their continues contributions to building and developing the society. They have thrived within a supportive legislative and social environments, enjoying political and economic freedom, fostering creativity and excellence in various fields.
Despite the challenges and difficulties accompanying their journey to success, the Kuwaiti women have gained leadership and precedence in the Gulf region, holding multiple positions in various political, economic, cultural and social fields, becoming crucial contributors to the development process in the region.
Kuwait's history records numerous contributions by the Kuwaiti women across all fields, setting an example of struggle and perseverance. Maryam Abdul-Malik Al-Saleh was the first to enter the teaching field in 1938, followed by Sharifa Al-Qatami, who was the first female citizen to work for Kuwait Oil Company in 1960.
In medicine and nursing, Najeeba Al-Mulla was the first female doctor to join the Kuwait Medical Association in 1967. In law, Suad Al-Qenaei and Sheikha Al-Duaij were among the first female lawyers in 1973.
In theatre, Maryam Al-Saleh and Maryam Al-Ghadban participated in early theatrical works, while Salwa Essa became the first Kuwaiti flight attendant for Kuwait Airways in 1975.
The role of Kuwaiti women during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait that began in August 1990 cannot be overlooked. They stood alongside men in resisting the occupiers, with some being martyred and others imprisoned. Sana'a Al-Foudari was the first woman martyr, followed by Asrar Al-Qabandi and other martyrs.
Kuwaiti women's achievements continue. Recently, Kuwait celebrated another accomplishment with Dr. Reem Al-Shammari winning the 2024 Arab Women Cyber Security Leader Award, the first regional recognition of its kind at the GISEC Global Conference, honoring outstanding women across the Arab world whose achievements have had a wide-reaching impact.
Kuwaiti women had gained more prominence in leading positions as ministers and undersecretaries, reach 28 percent of the personnel across state bodies in addition to sectors such as the military, police, diplomatic corps, oil sector, and judiciary.
Kuwaiti women also gained recognition in the economic sector, taking around 41 percent of the leadership and administrative positions in the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) for instance. Some 26 percent of similar positions for women were recorded in the banking sector and 35 percent of the working force in Kuwaiti banks were secured by female employees.
On May 11, a new government was formed according to a decree by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, headed by His Highness Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, including 13 ministers, two of whom are women: Dr. Noura Al-Mashaan, Minister of Public Works and Municipality Affairs, and Dr. Amthal Al-Huwaila, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Family and Children Affairs, and Minister of State for Youth Affairs. (end)
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Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)

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