Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 14:20 | SYDNEY
Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 14:20 | SYDNEY

Kuwaiti sisters doin' it for themselves


Rodger Shanahan


21 May 2009 16:11

Being a white Anglo-Saxon male associated with the Lowy Institute I have undertaken a bit of introspection as a result of the recent commentary about the gender imbalance in the international relations field (particularly in think tank blogs).

While I can't do anything about my sex, heritage or interest in international relations, I thought it only fair to run the old gender bias-ometer over myself by checking my blogging history.
I think my posts are pretty gender neutral, and indeed I have included female-focused stories on a few occasions, but rarely concerning 'hard' international policy issues, I must admit. In my own defence, having a Middle East focus makes this difficult to achieve. However, having been alerted to concerns among our readership I for one am happy to try to shift my focus.
And what better way to start than in Kuwait where, only four years after being allowed the right to vote, the first women have been elected to parliament. Four of the sixteen women who ran were successful, including Massouma al-Mubarak, who had previously been an appointed minister. 

Senior politicians from around the world were quick to welcome the news. At a speech at the all-women's Barnard College, Hillary Clinton called it a 'major step forward for Kuwait, the region and the world'. France's Minister for Human Rights, Rama Yade, also called it a 'sign of hope'.

Could this, as Secretary of State Clinton claimed, be a watershed event and presage a new era of political empowerment for women in the Arab world? I personally don't think so, but in upcoming posts I'll provide some insight into the position and role of women in the Arab political scene.