Give Kuwaiti Women the Rights They Deserve!
Al-Qabas, Kuwait, September 4
Two weeks ago I posted a tweet that quickly went viral. In it, I demanded that Kuwaiti women be allowed to choose their own life partner while preserving the right, currently granted only to men, to reside in Kuwait. Truth be told, I didn’t expect the tweet to become so prolific. This made me happy but also sad. Happy, because it received the attention it deserved. Sad, because I realized just how many women in Kuwait suffer from social or political norms that negatively affect them and their family. It is a shocking paradox that nearly 20,000 Kuwaiti women who are married to non-Kuwaiti men cannot get their children to be recognized by the state as legitimate residents. All of this happens while 3 million expatriates from around the world enjoy residency even though they have no real connection to the country. Driven by curiosity, I looked into the number of countries that grant women the right to naturalize their children even if married to a non-citizen. I found that the number of these countries is large and growing, even within our region: It is true for Bahrain, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen, Mauritania, Iran and many Western countries far away from us. Kuwait remains alone. Kuwaiti women are not even asking for citizenship for their children – just residency. But their pleas fall on deaf ears. The National Assembly and its members are spending their time taking care of their own electoral interests. Therefore, my advice to Kuwaiti women is to join forces and form an electoral bloc; only then will your voices be heard and will political representatives care about your struggles. My dear Kuwaiti sisters, let us speak in the language that politicians understand. Let us express our power now, with parliamentary elections around the corner. Our demand for equality is our basic right, protected by the Kuwaiti constitution. As women, we have to organize and advocate for our rights. Only then will we achieve change. – Modhi Abdul Aziz Al-Hamoud (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)