Arab women ought to get more elbow room in politics


That appeal came in a work-paper entitled The New Roles for Kuwaiti Women in the Nation’s Development plans, presented as part of the functions of a forum celebrating Arab women’s achievements organized by the Kuwaiti cabinet’s committee on women’s affairs in conjunction with a similar committee at the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU).



Despite present development plans in Kuwait addressing women’s issues, al-Jassem indicated in her paper that what was being accomplished was not enough. She gave an overview of how best the public and private sectors could boost women in the work place and elsewhere.



With the availability of technological amenities, women are capable of being creative and productive in society in ways no one could have imagined just a few years back, she said. There has to be a restructuring of Kuwaiti societal values in such a way that it would encourage individual learning, increasing personal productivitiy, and working longer hours to achieve good results, she counseled.



In comments following al-Jassem’s presentation, professor of international law Badriya al-Awadhi noted the need for Arab women to take concrete steps to improve their status in local and regional politics.


Al-Awadhi underlined that Arab women were competent achievers in certain convetional jobs such as those in the fields of education or health. Women in these fields, she assessed, were almost at parity with men. But what women really lacked, she said, was to get hold of top management positions.



She came out strongly for imposition of a quota system in Gulf and Arab political structures where women are granted seats in the parliament and in municipalites and other vital government agencies.


Having established a firm nexus between the role of women in Arab societies and development in these societies, she stated that "the more the percentage of women contributing to societal development, the more progressive that development will be and vice-versa." The Arab world, she indicated, was behind the times in not granting women their full dignity when legislating laws on the status of the family, on sentencing in criminal cases, or on issuing travel documents.



Overall, she summed up, it was up to Arab women to become involved in domestic politics, take a firm stand on championing women’s issues, and endeavor to back up women candidates for effective political positions be that in the parliament or elsewhere.


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