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Title: Kuwaiti women's resistance to patriarchy in the 21st century : an exploration of women's rights from the perspectives of Kuwaiti women
Author: Aseri, Ghadeer M. M. Gh. R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 5102
Awarding Body: Swansea University
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2016
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Kuwait’s recent history in terms of women’s empowerment in the face of a powerful patriarchy presents researchers with an opportunity to investigate and seek to understand a range of phenomena related to the role of women in an Islamic society. In particular, modernising forces are in conflict with patriarchal, conservative, tribal and religious influences, with women’s empowerment being one of the main battlegrounds. However, researching women’s perceptions about empowerment and interpreting their life experiences within Kuwait society is not so straightforward, as merely raising issues regarding women’s equality is extremely controversial. It is also highly problematic to include certain groups of women such as the Bedouin rural dwelling women who live in a highly patriarchal traditionalist environment. Notwithstanding these factors, this study aimed to give a voice to a cohort of women of Kuwait (educated and urbanised) in order to understand their perceptions of life in Kuwait in terms of their societal role, their appearance in the public sphere and potential inequalities and injustices that affect them in their daily lives as well as their hopes for their daughters and sons. A mixed methods research design was implemented with three elements, a survey questionnaire (n437), an in-depth interview study with educated urbanised Kuwaiti women (n20) and interviews with women in key leadership positions which also used in-depth interviews (n5). In terms of a theoretical framework, as exploratory research this study avoided tying itself to one theory or theoretical perspective but instead considered the findings of this study in the light of the work of a number of authors who are in most cases associated with contrasting contexts. Comparisons were also made where appropriate to do so between the recent developments in Kuwait and those seen in British social history pertaining to women’s empowerment. This was done in order to see whether commonalities in social change could sharpen the analysis particularly when evaluating the trajectory of this change. Offering a much needed first insight into the lives of Kuwaiti women, the study found that the educated urbanised women who took part in the study are highly conscious of the inequalities affecting their lives across a whole range of domains. Equally they are determined to maintain and extend their presence in the public sphere, in the face of patriarchal forces which perceive a women’s place as being in the home. In employment, education and politics women overwhelmingly wanted to play a full role in the country’s development. However, there was more equivocation and reticence to put forward their views when the matters under consideration were in the private sphere – where Islam is viewed as the source of law and patriarchy remains strong. This implies a level of confidence in Kuwaiti women when voicing aspirations for their role in civil society that is not matched when referring to home and family life.
Supervisor: Sagar, Tracey J. ; Maegusuku-Hewett, Tracey A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral