The Arab Spring and women in Kuwait

Authored by: Muhamad S. Olimat

Handbook of Arab Women and Arab Spring

Print publication date:  November  2013
Online publication date:  November  2013

Print ISBN: 9781857437126
eBook ISBN: 9781315858661
Adobe ISBN:


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The long struggle of Kuwaiti women for parliamentary presence came to fruition on 16 May 2009 when Masooma al-Mubarak, Salwa al-Jassar, Aseel al-Awadi and Rula Dashti were elected to the National Assembly, securing female representation for the first time in Kuwait’s history. However, women lost their seats in the ‘Arab Spring parliament’ elected in February 2012, but regained three seats in the so-called ‘anti-Arab Spring Parliament’ elected on 1 December 2012. Though women’s success in 2009 put an end to the patriarchal monopoly over the legislature, it did not guarantee their continued presence in the assembly. Their march for political participation spans the past 50 years, since the early days of Kuwait’s independence. In fact, their struggle ran parallel to the socio-economic and political developments in the country since the mid-20th century onward. Kuwait was a British colony from 1899–1961, gained its independence in 1961, enhanced it between 1961 and 1990, and enjoyed remarkable levels of socio-economic and political development. However, it fell under Iraqi occupation on 2 August 1990, and regained its independence five months later with the assistance of an international coalition that evicted Iraqi forces from the country.

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