Struggling for a right : Islam and the participation in sports and physical recreation of girls and women in Kuwait
The present study is the first of its kind. It is a study about the involvement of Kuwaiti females in sports and physical recreation. The study invesigates both the structures and resources that make female participation in sports and physical recreation possible, and the ideological and physical barriers that prevent girls and young women from taking part. The development of female sports and physical recreation in Kuwait is investigated in relation to relevant historical and political developments, taking particular account of the influence of Islamic ideologies about the role of women in society, women's enfranchisement, and women's bodies. It provides evidence from the Holy Qur'an in support of the need for girls and women to exercise their bodies. The research highlights the contradictory position that Kuwaiti women find themselves in living in a relatively liberal Islamic state with an official discourse of gender equality, but facing traditional and unequal gender divisions in daily life and throughout culture, specifically in sports and physical recreation. Opportunities for females in sports and recreation are tied to the political administration system of the state and the study looks at the present day situation of public provision and resourcing, following the liberation of the country from Iraq, as well as private resources that have developed as a result of westernized, global influences.. The study presents recommendations for Kuwaiti sports policy-makers, planners, and providers - that may be useful, too, for those in other societies in the Arabian Peninsula - concerning sports and physical recreation for Muslim girls and women in the future. The project traces the development of organised sport and physical recreation for females from 1950 until the present day. It includes details of physical education in schools, and the establishment and expansion of sport clubs and other facilities that are now in the country. Reference is made to the role of government agencies and departments - in particular the Public Authority for Youth and Sport (PAYS) that has special responsibility to establish stronger and more specialized opportunities. Since there is virtually no previous research or literature about the topic of girls and young women's involvement in sport and physical recreation in Kuwait, the main method of data collection was through questionnaires and interviews, supported by documentary evidence, including official statements.