Kuwaiti women have obtained significant political and legislative rights in recent years, but activists believe they still lack some basic civil rights.
The Kuwaiti parliament's Women's Affairs Committee will try to achieve greater gender equality during the May 25th public session of the Kuwaiti parliament with "a set of amendments to current laws that aim at making them compatible with women's rights all over the world", according to MP Dr. Rola Dashti.
"We are endeavouring to ensure that the working woman enjoys equal rights with men, regarding having access to different senior positions [in her place of employment]," Dashti, a member of the Committee, told Al-Shorfa. "We have added some points for the benefit of divorcees and women married to non-nationals. We proposed granting many financial rights to women to enable them to lead a life with dignity, without being dependent on others," she said.
Dashti added, "This will be very clear in our proposed amendments, which address all groups of women, regardless of the different classes of social insurance."
"We also endeavoured to ensure that a woman can complete her education without affecting her work or infringing on her rights or the rights of her husband, in case he accompanies her, and vice versa," she said."As for the Kuwaiti woman who is married to a non-national, her children should at least be granted permanent residence in Kuwait to guarantee the stability of the family."
Dashti anticipates many of the amendments will be passed by the parliament, including those to the laws of housing and social insurance for the divorcee and the woman married to a non-national, as well as the rights of the working woman who wants to study abroad or to accompany her husband who wants to complete his studies abroad.
She confirmed that members of the Women's Affairs Committee sought to ensure consistency in all the proposed amendments. "We are working for the benefit of the Kuwaiti woman, not the opposite," she concluded.
Ali Al-Zubi, Professor of sociology at Kuwait University, said prejudice against women in Kuwaitstill exists, considering that encouraging women to "stay at home and receive a salary in return for taking care of her children and husband means nothing but depriving her of all of her rights."
"The most important rights women in Kuwait should include the right to housing, healthcare and a proper job. She should be allowed to play a greater role, by being given access to the senior positions in the state. Enabling women is necessary because it allows her to play her true role in developing the society," he told Al-Shorfa.
Al-Zubi said he does not believe the parliamentary quota is the ideal method the Women's Affairs Committee can adopt to obtain rights for women in Kuwait.
The four female MPs "have succeeded in making major achievements on the international level, however the quota principle can produce irresponsible personalities that may affect the country's interests," he added.
Social consultant Elham Al-Qattan believes that, after Kuwaiti women obtained political rights such as voting and running for the legislative offices, and working in high level positions in both the public and private sectors, some women, supported by many men, expressed their wish to receive proper social care.
"The Kuwaiti woman believes that there is discrimination against her in two fields: the first is related to actual practices, and the other is related to the laws that favour men over women," Al-Qattan told Al-Shorfa.
Al Qattan added that the percentage of women participating in the majority of Kuwaiti constituencies was at least 56%, and the Kuwaiti woman is an influential member of Kuwaiti political life. She deserves to have full social rights and be treated on an equal footing with men, to provide the Kuwaiti family with social stability, Al Qattan said.