Recently, Kuwait has taken concrete steps towards women’s empowerment and gender equality. This progress is largely due to the political, cultural and social commitment of pioneering women who have helped to change things. A fight that continues, especially to denounce sexual harassment and demand more protection. Discover the portraits of 5 inspiring women from Kuwait.
1 – Alanoud Alsharekh
Alanoud Alsharek is an academic researcher and activist in the fields of youth and gender demographics, GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) security, bicultural trends and feminism in the Arab world. She is, in fact, a strong advocate for women and their rights, and does not hesitate to speak on this topic through conferences and debates. In 2016, she was named Knight of the National Order of Merit by the French government, for her contribution to the improvement of women’s lives in Kuwait and the region.
2 – Ascia Al Faraj
Famous fashion blogger, ex-model and influencer with 2.5 million followers on Instagram, Ascia Al Faraj is behind the Me too movement in Kuwait. In February 2021, the young woman spontaneously published a video face to face with the camera where she expressed her anger. “Every time I go out, there is someone harassing me or another woman on the street! Don’t you feel ashamed? We have a harassment problem in this country and I’m sick of it!” she exclaims. The video then triggers a wave of testimonies. Dozens of women tell, in turn, how they are harassed and assaulted on a daily basis.
3 – Shayma Shamo
A few days after the video post of Ascia Al Faraj, the young doctor Shayma Shamo brings her support by creating the Instagram account “Lan Asket” (“I will not be silent”, in French). Messages from victims are pouring in and the word is getting out about verbal, physical and sexual harassment. “We must express ourselves, unite and defend each other because what is happening is unacceptable,” she told AFP. The page now has more than 15,000 subscribers.
4 – Lulu Alaslawi
Another inspiring woman from Kuwait to speak out against violence against women is fashion and lifestyle influencer Lulu Alaslawi. A media figure with more than 400,000 followers on her page, the Kuwaiti breaks the silence by denouncing the bullying she faces for her fashion photos. “The girls do not speak for fear of being stigmatized. But we won’t stop until we defeat this cancer in society,” she says.
5 – Lulwa Al-Qatami
Known for being the first Kuwaiti woman to go to England for university studies in 1953, Lulwa Al-Qatami has had a remarkable career since then. A former director of Kuwait University and UNESCO ambassador, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Most recently, in 2019, Lulwa Al-Qatami was awarded the Legion of Honor for her commitment to education and women’s empowerment.