KUWAIT: The Arab Woman Awards took places recently in Kuwait, during which several stateswomen were awarded for their contributions in business, education, art, humanitarian action and various other fields.
Sarah Abushaar delivered a speech during the event, in which she underlined the important role that women have played in human history. “History and humanity are rich in the stories of leading women who transformed their worlds — indeed our world at large — and pioneered a path for the generations. But their monumental gains were not without monumental challenge,” she said.
Sarah spoke about being taught by her parents from a young age about women’s achievements in various fields in the region. “When you grow up hearing of all these incredible women, women whose names were preceded by the label ‘she was the first’ or ‘she is the only’.. women who consistently broke the molds and defied expectations.. that has a very powerful effect. You made the improbable seem possible and within reach,” she indicated. “You served as constant proof to the young version of me that ‘yes we can!’ no matter what the probabilities said.”
According to Sarah, Kuwait is no stranger to the pivotal role of women in our society. “[Kuwait] is historically home to some of the most active and progressive women in our region and some of the biggest bright spots of female attainment,” she said.
“As it relates to economic participation, our female labor force participation rate at 53 percent, is the highest in the GCC region,” she pointed out. “As it relates to educational attainment, Kuwait University sees more female graduates than male counterparts and our women are among the earliest and most educated of the region. When it comes to political participation, through your activism and persistent calls for progress, you spearheaded significant reform to expand our political franchise in 2005 to encompass your crucial voice with the major victory of women’s rights to vote and to run for office, which was an important gain in Kuwait’s broader democratic experiment. When it comes to civil society, we have one of the most vibrant and robust civic societies in the Middle East today and your work and efforts are a large part of the strength of our social infrastructure.”
Sarah also quoted President of the IMF Christine Lagarde, who said during her visit to the country in 2013 that: “When it comes to the role of women, I know that Kuwait is a regional role model. Kuwait is home to some of the brightest, most educated, most creative women in the world.”
Sarah concluded her speech with on an optimistic tone, addressing the honored women by saying: “Tomorrow, somewhere across Kuwait, a young girl might be sitting in her home’s living room, her parents will have opened the newspaper and will be pointing to you here, today… And in hearing about your story, in some way, that girl will start to build her aspirations.. her dreams around your inspiration and example. And one day that young girl may be standing here, thanks in no small part, to you.”