Population size and demographic: 4.3 million. 39% of the population is female and 61% is male.
Women at Work
In Kuwait, the female workforce participation stood at about 47% in 2021 (1) while men’s labour force participation stood at 84% (2). In Kuwait, women occupied 8.55% of leadership positions in the public sector in 2009 and, in 2011 more than half of workers in the public sector were women, around 54.2% (1) Women occupied 64% of the educational sector in 2015. (8) According to data from UN Women, the unemployment rate for women aged 15 and older is 5.8% and the proportion of women in managerial positions is 13.6% in Kuwait (3).
Women’s Participation in Parliament
In Kuwait, the right to vote was given to Kuwaiti women in 2005. Women won seats in the National Assembly of Kuwait for the first time in 2009, when 4 women were elected (4). In 2020, Safa al-Hashem, the only female MP of Kuwait lost her seat, which she had held since 2012. (5) After 2 years without a female MP, in 2022 two women were elected, out of 305 candidates, 22 of which were women (6). About 6.7% of ministerial positions are held by women and 4.6% of seats in lower or single house of parliament are held by women according to 2016 research (7).
Violence against Women
In 2018, 53.1% of women experienced gender-based violence. The country claimed that out of 447 domestic violence cases that had been filed in 2016, only 76 resulted in conviction. Although law states there should be shelters for victims of domestic violence, not one shelter has been established in Kuwait (9). In 2020, a new Law on Protection from Domestic Violence was issued, which represents a step in the right direction for women’s rights in Kuwait. However, this law does not include gender-based violence from former partners or people in relationships out of wedlock (10).
About 41% of women in Kuwait suffer from marital violence (11). According to a 2020 study comprising 1335 women, 71% of women have experienced physical abuse, 81% of women have experienced sexual violence and 89% have experienced psychological abuse (12). Statistics ranging from 2000 to 2009 reveal that there is at least one reported act of violence against women every single day. Despite this, only around 25.4% of citizens believe that violence against women is a top concern. (13)
In terms of women’s education in Kuwait, in 2020 93.02% of girls were enrolled in primary education, and about 81.8% were enrolled in tertiary education. About 95.9% of girls in primary education transitioned to secondary school and in 2015, 94.9% of women could read and write. (14) While there has been a 70% drop in admitted men in STEM subjects since 2010/2011, women have seen a 21% increase in their admission to STEM subjects in the last 7 years, and about 53% of admitted students in STEM majors were women (15). Women constituted 69.8% of college undergraduate students in 2012. (7)
In Kuwait, maternal mortality rate stands at 12 per 100,000 births in 2020 (16). There are 24 doctors and 59 nurses per 10,000 people in Kuwait and life expectancy at birth for women is 76. (17) About 99.9% of births were attended by skilled health professionals (17). Kuwait struggles with obesity, as 44% of women over the age of 18 are obese, and about 20% of girls aged 10-19 are also affected by obesity (18).
Current law and policy:
Kuwait has no laws prohibiting domestic
violence or marital rape. And laws that do exist to protect against some forms
of violence are limited or poorly enforced.
There are also no current strategies being presented by the Kuwaiti government in response to issues of gender-based violence.
In Kuwait, there are no laws prohibiting domestic violence or marital rape. While
rape carries a maximum penalty of death; spousal rape is not a crime. Worse
still, laws against rape are not effectively enforced.
Article 153 of the Penal Code states that a man who finds his mother, wife, sister, or daughter in the act of adultery and kills them is punished by either a small fine or no more than three years in prison. Shari’a law governs family law for Muslim residents within Kuwait, as such the freedoms of women are heavily curtailed, especially once they are married.
To date, the government has not published statistics on violence against women, and many victims do not report domestic abuse, due to the lack of legal support. In 2015, a law was introduced that stated the family courts should set up centres to handle domestic violence cases, but this law also stated that the priority of such centres was reconciliation, not protection of victims and survivors.
· Intisar Foundation - https://intisarfoundation.org/ - firstname.lastname@example.org
· Ilokana Women's Organization in Kuwait - https://www.facebook.com/Ilokana-Womens-Organization-in-Kuwait-936838026368462/ - email@example.com
· Kuwait Association for the Care of Children in Hospital (KACCH) - http://www.kacch.org/ - firstname.lastname@example.org