KUWAIT CITY, April 9: Kuwait’s decision to allow women to join the security forces is considered a breakthrough in a generally conservative society that did not easily accept changes, especially when it comes to the status of women.
In a report published by gulfnews.com on Saturday, Noof, a fresh military graduate, said she felt that her childhood dream was coming true and that after several years of sacrifices, she was able
to don the uniform which had been an integral part of her life. She looked up with pride as she took part in the parade under the mild sun enveloping Kuwait. Her dream was made possible thanks to the long-awaited decision to allow Kuwaiti women to join the security forces and contribute to the service of their country.
The strong determination of the country’s leaders and pro-women activists brought about such changes with more women gradually entering the security and work forces, while steadily rising to positions of power and influence.
In March 2009, the country was dazzled by the impressive show of skills displayed by the first batch of 27 policewomen who graduated after five months of intensive learning courses and training sessions. It was the beginning of a wide array of opportunities for women in uniform.
Seven years later, in March 2016, Lieutenant Colonel Melody Mitchell, from the Office of Military Cooperation- Kuwait at the US Embassy in Kuwait, was all praises for the increased participation of Kuwaiti women in the military. “These women [VIP Protection Unit, Female Division] are all trailblazers, they are the role models for the young girls of Kuwait,” Mitchell said. “They play a critical role because terrorists in the Middle East have capitalised on cultural norms and use women to gain an advantage. We must do the same to match and overcome their efforts. Kuwait is wise to integrate women into their security apparatus,” she said, quoted by The Marines, the official website of the US Marine Corps.
In the civil service, the steady increase in the number of women in the public sector has allowed them to break social and occupational taboos about jobs, making inroads into the political and managerial sectors. The latest official figures released in March this year indicate that of the 342,417 Kuwaitis who have jobs, women with 188,141 outnumber men at 154,276 in a clear indication of the vast progress they have made in the last few years. This vastly outnumbers national women working in other Gulf countries. For example, Emirati women constitute only