‘Flawed against women and society’
KUWAIT CITY, Oct 13: The proposal which was submitted recently to pay ‘deserving’ women their salaries without going to office has mixed reactions, reports Al-Anba daily.
While the writer and researcher in economic affairs Mohammed Ramadan has supported the parliamentary proposal of MP Majed Al-Mutairi, other media people have strongly rejected the proposal, calling it ‘flawed’ against women and society and lashed at those MPs who plan to put Kuwait on the list of backward countries instead of solving the problems currently facing Kuwait, and looking for ways to contribute to the realization of Kuwait Vision 2035.
This came during the debate organized by the Youth Movement under the title ‘Niqashna’ (our discussion) at the Promenade Cultural Center Complex. However, Ramadan says the proposal has been ‘misunderstood’ by the media. He says the proposal is targeting married women and is quite the opposite of what has been widely published.
He says according to the proposal if married women prefer to stay at home and take of their family (children) she will be given financial allowance but it is for her to choose what she prefers. Ramadan explained the monthly ‘assistance’ proposed by MP Al-Mutairi will be according to the educational qualification as follows: intermediate and less 500 dinars per month, a secondary qualification 550 dinars, diploma holders 600 dinars, university graduates 650 dinars, and master and above 700 dinars provided that women do not get financial assistance from any other party.
Ramadan said the study he conducted focuses on determining the proportion of housewives in Kuwait; comparing the size of the proposed assistance with the salary of women at work, benefit to women for staying at home and put emphasis on cutting down the divorce rates. However, he says, there is no conclusive evidence that this proposal will contribute to reducing divorce rates.
Ramadan was surprised that the Women’s Cultural Association, whose main purpose is to defend the rights of women has strongly opposed the proposal to distribute financial assistance to women who want to stay at home not only this, the association said the proposal gives women a right for monthly financial assistance and yet they may not stay put in the house.
In contrast, the writer and former Deputy Director-General of Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) Iqbal Al-Ahmed said she is against this proposal. She explained providing monthly assistance to women 18 years and above who prefer to stay at home is a shame for women and society as a whole.
She said such proposals made in the name that women should be held responsible for family problems such as poor child upbringing, holding her responsible for high divorce rates, destabilization of the family and disguised unemployment is lame. She pointed out that Kuwait today is suffering from budget deficits, fiscal deficits in future generations fund, oil crisis, etc, etc, and wonder how the parliamentarians give importance to marginal issues that contribute to waste of wealth.
She stressed that besides her responsibility at home and raising children, she also contributes to building the society, especially since Kuwait has not given up on Kuwaiti women in higher education and sent them on scholarships abroad to obtain the highest academic degrees, then how come the parliamentarian thinks of a law to make a woman ‘sit at home’.? Al-Ahmad added that Kuwaiti women have obtained all their rights and the labor law in Kuwait is fair to women from pregnancy until the end of breastfeeding.
There are subsidies and financial assistance for divorced or retired women at age 50 and other forms of assistance, but it is not logical to tell a young woman 18 years old and above to sit at home and “we will give you monthly financial assistance”.
On the other hand, she says: There must be a serious desire to find radical solutions to the problem of unemployment, expressing regret that women are held responsible for disguised unemployment, although there is also convincing unemployment among men.
When Ramadan during the debate asked Al-Ahmad why she rejects the acquired right of women according to the proposal, she said, “This is not a categorical rejection for mere rejection, but I am against the proposal and its seriousness to society, especially in the current period,” and warned of repercussions of such proposals in society.
She added, there is a religious segment that sees right place for a woman or rather women are born to raise children and to cook and clean only as stated in most school curricula, which unfortunately has ‘injected’ into our generations of today some of whom occupy the decision-making chairs and promote such proposals. Al-Ahmad stressed her firm rejection to marginalizing the role of women in society and confining her role to home only. Dr. Ghadeer Asiri, a Professor of Criminal Law at Kuwait International Law School, said during the debate the proposal to pay the woman’s salary and keep her at home was put forward in the 1990s and then again in the 2010 National Assembly but failed to win the vote.
She added, reducing the women’s role in society contradicts international conventions. “Today, the kind of laws we see will in the long run diminish the role of women, contrary to what the Kuwaiti people aspire to do today in the ace of their desire to see the developmental laws.” Asiri said that this proposal when it was put in the past was subjected to a political attack and said it is surprising that this proposal has shown its ugly side again.
Writer Khalid Al-Tarrah asserted that women are an essential partner with men in the development of society and stressed that the Women’s Cultural Association is not the only opposition to the parliamentary proposal to pay financial assistance to women and keep them at home, but many Kuwaiti men also have rejected this proposal, and said he is among the one who reject the proposal.