Home / Sun Devil Shelf Life / Perspectives of Five Kuwaiti Women in Leadership Roles
Cover of Perspectives of Five Kuwaiti Women in Leadership Roles by Souad T. Ali
June 2019
Cambridge Scholars Publishing

College or Unit:

Perspectives of Five Kuwaiti Women in Leadership Roles

Feminism, Islam, and Politics
Souad T. Ali

The advances made in women’s issues in the Gulf State of Kuwait during the last 60 years have been widely commented upon, but limited academic research has been published on their material effects. In 2005, Kuwaiti women received the right to both vote and to run in elections to Parliament — the first women in the conservative Arab Gulf bloc to do so.

This book presents five remarkable female leaders in Kuwait, including one of the first elected Kuwaiti female members of Parliament, an art advocate and museum founder, a national hero and oil industry leader, a university founder, and a current, controversial MP. In intimate conversations with the author, they share their thoughts on topics such as gender relations and equality, the current women’s rights movement, the role of religion in politics and education, and female leaders’ visibility and impact. Their different backgrounds, interpretations of Islam and outlooks on the future of their country combine to embody the changes involving women’s issues in Kuwait that have occurred since the mid-20th century.

Even as Muslim feminists’ critique creates new arenas in Islamic theology and stridently conservative forms of Islamism become increasingly visible in the public space, the material effects of the advances in women’s issues in Kuwait have received little academic attention until now. A book that both complicates and contributes to understandings of women, Islam and social change, this important work will be of great interest to scholars in religious studies, women’s and gender studies, and Middle Eastern studies, as well as reformers throughout the region who continue to find inspiration in Kuwait’s "Blue Revolution."


Souad T. Ali is an associate professor of Arabic in the School of International Letters and Cultures at ASU.

Praise for this book

"Souad T. Ali’s excellent chronicle of the lives and words of five Kuwait women is a timely intervention in diverse fields of inquiry pertaining to gender, the state and religion in this Muslim Gulf society. This book is a must-read for anyone with interest in Gulf studies, Islamic feminist discourses and gender studies. With her focus on voice, the author amplifies vital perspectives and lessons for grasping the fine-grained nuances of social movements aspiring to transform lives for the better."

Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf
Professor of anthropology, Georgetown University

“Professor Ali’s work augments and expands the previous studies of Kuwaiti women in leadership roles. Dedicating one chapter for each woman, the author addresses the process of integration these five leaders took to hold firm to their Islamic religious principles, feminist ideals, socio-political motivations and educational commitments. With the rise of Kuwaiti women as feminist leaders and the need to understand the role of Islam as one source of their motivation, this book makes a major contribution to understanding the intersection of both.”

Susan M. Maloney
Past president, American Academy of Religion/Western Region