Kuwait determined to end discrimination against women in the workplace

February 14, 2010
MP Rola Dashti

Kuwait is determined to end discrimination against women in the workplace, a woman lawmaker has said.

“Kuwait is keen on improving its laws and rules to eliminate discrimination against women in the workplace,” Rola Dashti has said. “Despite all the difficulties and challenges there has been some positive progress and we plan to continue the movement forward,” said Rola, a Johns Hopkins University PHD holder who heads the health and work committee in the Kuwaiti parliament.

Rola, listed among the world’s 100 most influential Arabs in 2007 and 2008, was one of four women elected last year to the parliament, ending the men’s monopoly that marked it since it was formed.

Women in the conservative Kuwaiti society have been facing an uphill struggle for more rights despite visible support from the country’s amir and government members.

Recently activists have been pushing for amending the laws to allow Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaiti to benefit from government-sponsored housing schemes and to be able to transmit their nationalities to their children.

On Saturday, Rashed Al Radaan, a Kuwaiti columnist writing for Al Watan daily highlighted the suffering and pain of a Kuwaiti woman who was told that she could not give her two properties to her two children because she was married with a foreigner and her children could not get the Kuwaiti nationality, a major condition for owning real estate in the country.

“I wanted to give the properties to my two children to ensure their future, but I was told by the competent authorities that I had no legal right to do that,” she said. “They told me that my children, even though they were born and raised in Kuwait, were not Kuwaiti citizens and as such could not own property,” the unnamed woman said, according to Al Radaan.

Women’s rights activists have been challenging long-established socially-driven rules they see as too restrictive or unfair.

In October, Kuwaiti women won the right to obtain passports without the consent of their husbands.

The constitutional court argued the husband’s signature requirement, stipulated in a 1962 law, violated the constitution which guaranteed freedom and gender equality.

The historic decision, which cannot be challenged, was made after a woman sued her husband for preventing her and her children from leaving the country.




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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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