Kuwait: Women’s Rights Bill Approved by Panel

A Kuwaiti parliamentary panel has approved draft legislation that would expand women’s rights. Currently, women in Kuwait are allowed 40 days of paid leave per year, a number that will increase to 70 days a year if the new legislation passes in parliament and gains the authorization of the emir, according to AFP. Other components of the bill include the extension of women’s maternity leave to two years, a government-paid assistance in the amount of $865 to married, unemployed Kuwaiti mothers, and the right for widowed or divorced women to apply for government housing. Under existing law, only married Kuwaiti men can apply for housing.

According to APF, MP Saleh Ashour expects the legislation to be debated in parliament during March or April.

This draft legislation comes after Kuwaiti women won full political rights, including the right to vote and run for office, in May 2005. In recent parliamentary elections, however, the 28 female candidates who ran for office were unsuccessful in challenging the incumbent men, and of the 16-member Kuwaiti cabinet, only one minister is a woman.
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AFP 2/4/07; Jurist 2/4/07

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