Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Dr. Rasha Al-Sabah on Women's Rights in Kuwait

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Dr. Rasha Al-Sabah on Women's Rights in Kuwait

Article excerpt

The Kuwait Information Office in Washington, DC hosted an informal breakfast discussion Oct. 9 with one of Kuwait's highest ranking female policymakers, Undersecretary of Higher Education Dr. Rasha AlSabah. Dr. Al-Sabah, who earned both an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University, was in Washington to attend the first Conference of Women World Leaders, along with female cabinet ministers and other leaders from all over the world. She was invited to represent Kuwait, whose male parliament is still debating giving political rights to women.

For three generations, Al-Sabah said, Kuwaiti women have held leadership roles and even senior positions in government ministries. While Kuwaiti men were pearl diving and sailing off in merchant ships to the Indian subcontinent for months at a time, Kuwaiti women-known, she said, for their "resistance and persistence"-were on their own, educating, feeding and protecting their children. Al-Sabah described them as their country's real "homeland security" experts.

Kuwait's women also showed their mettle during Iraq's invasion in 1990, the undersecretary continued, organizing the first public demonstrations, facing tanks and machine guns, and saying "No" to the invaders. They wrote and distributed clandestine pamphlets. …

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