Friday, October 23, 2009

Feel Good Fridays: Passport Rights in Kuwait

Hey Athenites!

As I’m sure lots of you know, it’s midterm season, meaning that I am alternately swamped with work, sleeping, and procrastinating. That means that this week’s Feel Good Friday will be a little shorter than the others. (What did I do yesterday while trying not to write a political science essay? Cleaned my room, watched 3 consecutive episodes of Arrested Development, sewed buttons on to my coat, and baked and ate some banana bread. One of my most productive days yet...)

Kuwaiti women have recently been granted passport rights, that is, the right to travel without their husband’s permission. The law, which was established in 1962, required a husband’s signature on a women’s passport application.

Although there are still (obviously) a long way to go for equality in Kuwait, this is a great positive step, and Kuwait has shown consistent progress in advancing women’s political rights. Women were granted the right to vote in 2005, and women first voted and ran for office in 2006. This year, the first female members of Parliament were elected. (On a side note, two of the four female MPs, Rola Dashti and Aseel Al-Awadhi, announced that they would not wear the hijab in parliament. This has become somewhat controversial, so it will be interesting to see how it develops.)

Granting women passport rights is a great step for Kuwait. Now, women are guaranteed the freedom of movement that is outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a symbolic indication that they are equals—or rather, that they are becoming more equal. With freedom of movement, women also have a better chance of escaping abusive marriages/relationships.

So, super work, Kuwait, and kudos to all the amazing Kuwaiti activists!


Steph :)

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