Hitting The Glass Ceiling? Women's Political Participation in Kuwait (Webinar)


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This Kuwait Programme event was a discussion about Dr Zeynep Kaya’s recent research on women's political participation in Kuwait. Dr Lubna Al-Kazi acted as a discussant, and Dr Courtney Freer chaired the event. Since the introduction of women’s suffrage in 2005, the number of women elected to parliament in Kuwait has been very small. Despite this, their presence in high political office has changed the discourse around women’s political and public roles, while also generating a misogynistic backlash against women. The paper Dr Kaya will present at this event provides an overview of the discussions about women’s electoral participation in Kuwait building on 27 semi-structured interviews conducted in 2019 with politicians, public officers, academics and activists and the academic literature on women’s political participation. The paper captures the state of the discussions on women’s electoral participation and provides an account of what issues are emphasised and omitted in these discussions in 2019. The interviews provided important insights on the dynamics that influence women’s electoral participation in Kuwait and the strategies they used to get elected. Dr Zeynep Kaya is a Lecturer in International Development in the Department of Social and Policy Studies, University of Bath, and a Visiting Fellow with the LSE Middle East Centre. Previously she was a Senior Teaching Fellow at the Department of Development Studies at SOAS and an Academic Associate at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. She is interested in understanding how communities and political groups perceive, interact with and challenge international processes and dominant norms. Her research looks at the relationship between gender, violence and development in conflict and post-conflict contexts. Zeynep has a PhD in International Relations from the LSE, where she conducted research on the transformation of Kurdish nationalism and territorial identity in an international context. Her book Mapping Kurdistan: Territory, Self-Determination and Nationalism was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. Dr Lubna Ahmed Al-Kazi is Director of the Women’s Research and Studies Center at Kuwait University. Lubna has been a professor in the Sociology Department at Kuwait University since 1984, after graduating from the University of Texas in 1983 with a PhD in Demography and Sociology. She was a consultant with the Population Division at the United Nations for one year from 1986-87, and in 2009 a consultant for the United Nation Development Programme, when she prepared the section on Gender and Development for the Kuwait National five-year plan 2010 – 2015. Lubna is on the editorial board of Arabic Journal Al-Thaqafa Al-Alamiah and the Journal of Arabian Studies. She is a member of the ‘Women’s Cultural and Social Society’ and ‘the Sociologists Association’ in Kuwait. She is also a member of Advisory Board of Vital Voices, an women‘s organization established by Hillary Clinton when she was the First Lady in the United States. Her areas of interest and research are gender, population change and family. Dr Courtney Freer is an Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the Middle East Centre. Her work focuses on the domestic politics of the Gulf states, particularly the roles played by Islamism and tribalism. Her book Rentier Islamism: The Influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gulf Monarchies, based on her DPhil thesis at the University of Oxford and published by Oxford University Press in 2018, examines the socio-political role played by Muslim Brotherhood groups in Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Join the conversation on Twitter using #LSEKuwait

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