@Work: Kuwait

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I was honored to be able to work with women in Kuwait on strategies to increase their voice and strengthen their leadership. Women in Kuwait were granted the right to vote and run for office in 2005, after years of efforts to push for suffrage. Momentum increased for women’s suffrage during the 2003 parliamentary elections, combined with renewed international pressure and a government that favored women’s rights, provided the necessary political space for real change to begin in Kuwait.  In 2004, throughout their struggle to gain the right to vote, Kuwaiti activists maintained their efforts to make sure that the issue remained at the forefront of public and political discourse.

In May 2005, after 40 years of continued determination, Kuwaiti women were extended the right to vote and run for office. With snap Parliamentary elections called practically every six months, it has bee challenging to keep up momentum. Best practices for increasing women´s participation in the MENA region continue, and include:  bringing together civil society activists or experts and electoral candidates and staff; facilitating mentorship between experienced and emerging women leaders; targeting pre-professional women, who have traditionally been an under-served demographic in women’s electoral support programs, in addition to students; targeting and engaging male candidates and supporters; and supporting women’s networks through online engagement.

Kuwait, its a mans world
A painting as part of an exhibit called, ¨It’s a Man’s World¨ marks yet another career milestone for celebrated artist and national treasure, Shurooq Amin whose work is now banned in Kuwait. Amin says, ¨ I’m not calling for the emancipation of women, I’m calling for the emancipation of the mind and society, men and women alike. If the men, who run our society, were emancipated from these backward shackles, the women would be fine. We may wish to think that women run the show, yet we have to face the facts, a lot of the big decisions that affect us are made by men. Simply, consider why women were not reelected this year. A lot of them did not fight enough for certain causes or were not taken seriously in this society, and based on that, they lost their credibility, and the rights of women in Kuwait were ignored rather than fought for. People expected change, yet we regressed. Instead, people chose more pious government officials.¨

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