Kuwait taking promising steps towards women’s empowerment & gender equality

Kuwaiti women have long been recognized as pioneers with a voice in social, political, intellectual, and cultural fields, throughout the country's history. The first Arab woman president of a university was from Kuwait at the Kuwait University, and women who have served as editors-in-chief of major newspapers, magazines, and multi-media outlets. Due to recent efforts and success in appointing female judges for the first time in Kuwait’s history, more women are pursuing careers as public prosecutors and more women lawyers are emerging. All these steps that Kuwait has taken to support and empower women in a variety of fields as part of its implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5.

Economic growth in Kuwait cannot be achieved without the full economic empowerment of women. This is one reason why the World Bank Kuwait Country Engagement Framework (CEF), which was recently approved by the Kuwaiti government in August 2021, includes a stand-alone Gender Engagement Framework, which mandates that all advisory services provided by the World Bank in Kuwait be viewed through a gender lens. The CEF will support a cross-cutting approach to increasing women's economic opportunities and will work to create an environment that is conducive to their employment, entrepreneurship, and leadership as well as their advancement in the workplace. The World Bank- Kuwait Gender Engagement Framework, is the first of its kind in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.

In addition, Kuwait has been prioritizing women's economic empowerment in other key policy instruments, such as the new national plan for Kuwait called Vision 2035/New Kuwait. Kuwait's "New Kuwait" development strategy aims to transform the country into a regional financial, cultural, and institutional pioneer by 2035. It is built on five strategic axes and seven pillars: public administration, economy, infrastructure, living environment, healthcare, human capital, and global position. The Government of Kuwait aims to boost women’s engagement in the labor market under the Creative Human Capital pillar, in alignment with Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals on gender equality. Vision 2035 aspires to transform the country into a knowledge-based economy by empowering the private sector to serve as the primary engine of growth. To achieve this goal, equal opportunity for men and women must be provided in order for both to be effective contributors to the vision.

Furthermore, as part of the SDG 5 program of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, and in collaboration with the Kuwait University Women's Research and Studies Center, UN Women, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Women's Empowerment Program (WEP) initiative in Kuwait was launched. The Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) are a set of guidelines for businesses on how to advance gender equality and women's empowerment in the workplace, marketplace, and community. They were developed by the United Nations Global Compact and UN Women. This initiative is geared toward the private sector and includes several companies. Its mission is to accelerate the implementation of Kuwait's new Vision 2035 by increasing the representation of women in leadership positions. In 2021, 14 new private sector companies committed to the WEPs to better diversify their workplace and promote women’s employment, bringing the total number of companies who adhere to these principles to 44.

And to further support these gender reform efforts, the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council of Planning and Development formed the Women's Affairs and Business Committee in May 2021 with the mandate of boosting women’s economic empowerment. Since its inception, the Committee has focused on increasing women’s participation in the workplace. It played a pivotal role in pushing through reforms in October 2021 to mandate non-discrimination based on gender in employment and to prohibit and criminalize sexual harassment at the workplace, in collaboration with the World Bank’s Business Regulations for Gender Equity Advisory team under the National Jobs Strategy Project.

While obstacles such as occupational segregation, a low female labor force participation rate, and social norms that restrict women's access to economic opportunity do still exist, there are also many opportunities to open the door for greater economic inclusion of Kuwaiti women. The above-mentioned significant steps already taken by Kuwait are a sign that the country means business, and other countries in the region can take note of these different multi-layered approaches in their plans to empowering women.

Female Employees and Children

The new labour law prohibits employment of minors, or an individual below 15 years of age.

A woman should be paid equal remuneration for performing same work as a man. The standard working hours for women are the same as that for men. However, women may not work at night 8pm to 7am, except in clinics, hotels, pharmacies, nursery schools, homes for handicapped, airline and tourist offices, theatres and Entertainment City. They can work up to midnight in co-operative societies and public utilities, restaurants, beauty salons, banks, tailoring shops and offices. Employers are obliged to arrange transportation for women working at night.

Discrimination and Equal Remuneration

Kuwait has not ratified ILO Convention No. 100 (1951) on Equal Remuneration but ratified ILO Convention No. 111 (1958) on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) in 1966. The law stipulates that women’s remuneration should be equal to that of a man for “same work”. The stipulation falls short of the international standard for ‘equal remuneration between men and women for work of equal value’. Article 29 of the Constitution guarantees equality without discrimination on grounds of gender, language, religion and other grounds. However, the absence of comprehensive legal provisions defining and prohibiting discrimination against women renders the constitutional principle unenforceable. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has found many discriminatory provisions in the Personal Status Act, the Civil Code, the Nationality Act, the Education Act and the Private Sector Labour Act. Several of these provisions concern women’s employment. For instance, the Private Sector Labour Law of 2010 prohibits employment of women at night, employment of women in dangerous, hard or harmful to health trades and “such jobs which are violating their morals and based on the utilization of their femininity in a manner which is not in line with the public morals”.

The government has established mechanisms on women’s equality, including the Coordination Committee on Women’s Affairs, which advises the government and the parliament’s Committee on Women’s Affairs. However, the impact and effectiveness of the Coordination Committee is not clear.

In practice, only 47 per cent of Kuwaiti native women are part of the workforce. Women face a gender pay gap of 34 per cent and they are underrepresented in senior and management jobs, although women account for 53 per cent of public workers. Only 14 per cent of highly skilled jobs are occupied by women.

Many women working as domestic workers are left unprotected as the law’s scope does not cover them. The difficulty of access of labour inspectors and other law enforcement officials to homes makes domestic workers particularly vulnerable to various forms of exploitation as well as sexual harassment.

In a case that could result in a landmark decision and create new legal grounds with regard to the employment rights of women, the Supreme Judicial Council rejected the application of a female law graduate to become a public prosecutor in April 2010. The Council based their decision on grounds of gender and explicit legal requirements laid out in the Constitution that ban women from serving in prosecutorial positions. On the other hand, in July 2010, the authorities allowed women police officers, previously restricted to deskwork, to work in public, for instance on patrols.

There is no law prohibiting sexual harassment at the workplace. Recently, the authorities established a women police task force, which intervenes in cases of sexual harassment in public venues.

The American University of Kuwait (AUM) upholds a strict policy against discrimination in the workplace. The university is committed to providing an environment where all employees are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their background, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, or any other protected characteristic. AUM's anti-discrimination policy extends to all aspects of employment, including recruitment, hiring, promotion, compensation, and termination. The university is dedicated to fostering a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusion, recognizing that the collective strength of its workforce lies in the richness of different perspectives and experiences. This policy underscores AUM's unwavering commitment to creating a fair, equitable, and harmonious work environment for all its employees.

Kuwait Labor Law

1. Article (46)

The service of the worker shall not be terminated without any justification or as a result of his activity in the syndicate or a claim or his legal rights in accordance with the provisions of the law. The service of the worker may not be terminated for reason of gender, race or religion.

2. Article (11)

The Ministry arid the competent authority shall not engage in any discriminatory or preferential treatment in dealing with employers with regard to the granting of work or transfer permits by granting such permits to some employers and denying them to others for any pretext or justification. The Ministry may, for organization reasons suspend the issue of work and transfer permits for a period not exceeding two weeks in any one year, and no employers may be excluded from such suspension during such period. Any act made in violation of this Article shall be absolutely null and void.

Community Outreach

At GUST we strongly believe in the importance of community outreach programs and partnerships. We believe that we have a social responsibility to give back and contribute to the development and improvement of, not only Kuwait, but the entire region as well. Our services include, but are not limited to, the following:

Partnerships with Civil Societies:

GUST has partnered with various civil societies to promote and emphasize the importance of community involvement. GUST has made available all its campus resources and facilities so that the civil societies would benefit from them in their campaigns, public lectures, and events.

Lectures, Arts, and Entertainment

The GUST calendar has numerous events and activities that are free and open to the public. Lectures on various topics include, but are not limited to, religion, politics, economics, and language arts. Moreover, the Student Union and our student clubs also organize events, carnivals, and concerts year round which students and the community can take advantage of. You can check for more over here.

Academic Scholarships

Every semester, GUST offers a limited number of internal GUST scholarships. GUST Scholarships cover full payment of tuition fees or a specific percentage of tuition fees. These scholarships are limited and, thus, highly competitive. This encourages and motivates individuals to excel academically and maintain high academic standards. For more information, you may see here.

Faculty Involvement in the Community

Many of our faculty members are involved in projects that aid the development of various sectors such as education and the economy. Moreover, they are conducting research that focuses on issues of great importance to our community and to its stability. GUST is also committed to building research centers so that students, faculty members, and the community will have access to abundant information which they would not have access to otherwise.

The Global Studies Center

The Global Studies Center at the Gulf University for Science and Technology in Kuwait conducts and supports research on cross-national topics. It examines political, economic, social, and cultural matters from a global perspective. We organize seminars, invite researchers, and publish a bi-annual newsletter. The Arabian Gulf region is not the only focus of our research. We are happy to function as partners for any kind of academic event. For all matters contact us at gsc@gust.edu.kw.

Research 2023-25

Global Citizenship in Kuwait: Perspectives and Obstacles

Global citizenship is the umbrella term for social, political, environmental, and economic actions of globally minded individuals and communities on a worldwide scale. It has gained popularity as one of the United Nation’s goals for human dignity, empowerment, and for positive change in societies.

Global citizenship attempts to cross over between different groups of people, surpassing separatist categories that continue to exclude people within societies.

Global citizenship aims to create more ethical, tolerant, and anti-racist youth cultures, gender equity, and disability inclusion.

Given the necessity of global citizenship today, this GSC research project aims to answer the question:

· What does it mean to be a global citizen today in Kuwait and in the Gulf and how can it be achieved?

· What are the roots of exclusion and racism, and how are these phenomena manifest in Gulf societies?

· How can policy-makers, educators, and researchers contribute to the creation and empowerment of global citizens in Kuwait?

The research project involves specialists in politics, education, culture, and media. Furthermore, researchers, administrators, activists, and non-profit organizations collaborate.

We work on the following topics:

· Identity politics and belonging

· Racial politics in Kuwait and the GCC

· The situation of migrant and domestic workers

· Gender inequalities, barriers to women’s inclusion at the workplace, women’s empowerment

· ‘Wokeism’ in Middle Eastern Cultures. This topic is covered by some contributors to the “Woke Conference,” especially Nesma Elsakaan and Jibril Latif

· Inclusion in schools, anti-bullying, and tolerance

· Disability and Education

· Slavery in the Gulf, research covered by GSC members in cooperation with Dr. Nesma Elsakaan and her research group from the University of Palermo.

· Attitudes towards minorities in the Gulf covered by Lisa Blaydes (Stanford University).


The research is in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) developed by UNESCO. Within the framework of “SDG4 on Global Citizenship Education” and “UNESCO for the Gulf States and Yemen” the goal is to empower Students through Global Citizenship Education.

Expected Outcomes

The project might reveal some problematic issues concerning Global Citizenship in Kuwait.

It might help in creating and developing strategies to reduce or eliminate issues related to racism that can be dealt with in a white paper to be submitted by GUST to the supreme council of planning.

Student Code of Conduct

GUST is committed to providing a positive work and learning environment where all individuals are treated fairly and with respect. Intimidation and harassment have no place in a university community.

It is the responsibility of the University to utilize its resources toward the creation of quality academic programs and to provide a friendly campus environment, which is conducive to learning and personal development. Interactions among GUST students, faculty, and staff should reflect mutual respect and professionalism.

A student enrolled at GUST assumes an obligation to behave in a manner compatible with the University’s function as an educational institution. The GUST Code of Student Conduct generally shall be limited to conduct which occurs on the University premises, at University-sponsored, or University-supervised functions. However, GUST administration may take appropriate action against students for conduct on or off University premises in order to protect the physical safety of students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Conduct, for which students are subject to sanctions, is described in detail in the University Code of Student Conduct.

GUST Global Studies Center Discusses Lineages of Nationalism, Sectarianism, and Absolutism in Bahrain and the Gulf

Gulf University for Science and Technology’s (GUST) Global Studies Center (GSC) held its second lecture of the semester with one titled “Contested Modernity: Lineages of Nationalism, Sectarianism, and Absolutism in Bahrain and the Gulf”. The event was led by Dr. Omar Alshehabi, GUST Associate Professor in the Humanities & Social Sciences Department. He obtained a BA in PPE and an M.Phil and D.Phil. in Economics at Pembroke College, Oxford. The lecture was part of the GSC’s ongoing effort to bring outstanding speakers and stimulating topics to GUST and the wider community.

The lecture began with a discussion on Dr. Al-Shehabi’s newest book, Contested Modernity; Sectarianism, Nationalism, and Colonialism in Bahrain, and then delved into the topic by drawing on a previously unexamined Arabic literature, as well as British archives. Dr. Al-Shehabi argues that sectarianism emerged as a modern phenomenon in Bahrain during this period. It also heralded the birth of absolutist rule in the Gulf, under the tutelage of the British Raj, to counter nationalist and anti-colonial movements tied to the al-Nahda renaissance in the wider Arab world.

Guest Lecturer, Dr. Omar Al-Shehabi, said, “To the causes of some of today’s problems, it is imperative that we look more closely at our past. Having published my book, I hope that the truth about specific geopolitical maneuvers finally sees the light of day.”

Dr. Al-Shebabi has previously worked at the IMF, the World Bank, McKinsey, and taught at University College, Oxford. He is the Director of the Gulf Centre for Development Policies.

Director of the Global Studies Center, Dr. Shahd Al-Shammari said, “The GSC is an active center and holds public lectures. We welcome everyone to attend. Our lectures are a chance to network with people with similar interests. Our faculty regularly connects with the community.”

The GSC is a leading research center on global studies, and a vehicle for engaging both internal and external communities through stimulating events and lectures on global issues. The center aims to conduct cutting-edge research on cross-national political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental issues of critical importance, and share research output and information regionally and globally. The GSC seeks to foster public understanding of global issues with local significance.

GUST continues to build on its mission to become a knowledge-hub that benefits and engages students, academics, and the wider Kuwait community as a whole. For more information on upcoming events, visit https://gsc.gust.edu.kw/.


Code of Conduct

Gulf University for Science and Technology is committed to providing a positive work and learning environment where all individuals are treated fairly and with respect, regardless of their status. Intimidation and harassment have no place in a university community. To honor the dignity and inherent worth of every individual member of the GUST community is a goal to which every member of the

University should aspire and to which officials of the University should direct attention and resources.

Fundamental Principles

In the performance of their duties and responsibilities, all members of the university community must respect the following human and professional values:

a) act with respect for the dignity of persons;

b) have integrity in their relationships;

c) be accountable to all members of the university community;

d) exercise their freedom while respecting the freedom of others.

e) to exercise their freedom while respecting the freedom of others;

f) respect the good of others and the environment;

g) promote a healthy and safe working, learning and research environment.

4. Updating the principles of conduct

4.1. In the exercise of their functions and responsibilities, all members of the university community shall undertake to respect the dignity of persons, in particular:

- showing respect and using courteous language towards any person and whatever the circumstances;

- treating people equally without discrimination of any kind;

- exercising good judgment, discretion and confidentiality according to the situation.

4.2. In the exercise of his or her functions and responsibilities, any person in the university community is committed to integrity in his or her relationships with others. is committed to integrity in his or her relationships, in particular:

- Acting with transparency, fairness, honesty and discretion in all his or her relationships with colleagues, students, supervisors or employees and subordinate employees; - Contributing to the quality of the working, learning and research climate.

4.3. In the exercise of his or her functions and responsibilities, any person of the university community undertakes to be accountable to others in the University community:

- acting with diligence, good faith and competence in the management, evaluation and monitoring of. any activity;

- Treating with fairness and equity those with whom he/she has a relationship.

- The student is expected to act with hierarchical or moral authority, in a spirit of mutual respect; - being punctual.

4.4. In the exercise of his functions and responsibilities, any person of the university community undertakes to exercise his or her freedom with respect for the freedom of others, in particular:

- their academic freedom in the exercise of their teaching and research activity, with respect for the inherent intellectual pluralism. respect for the intellectual pluralism inherent in the academy;

- their freedom of expression and opinion in the exercise of their university activities without hindering that of others personal

4.5. In the exercise of his or her functions and responsibilities, any person of the university community shall undertake to respect the good of others and the environment in particular:

- following the conditions of use of equipment, documentary resources, premises and services placed at their disposal;

- use the resources made available to the University for the purposes for which they are intended,

i.e. a use related to the intended, namely: a use related to university functions;

- avoid any contamination (waste, noise, etc.) in the facilities and keep them clean and intact.

4.6. In the exercise of his or her functions and responsibilities, any person in the university community undertakes to promote a healthy and safe learning environment, in particular;

- promoting order within the university community;

- preserving a healthy and safe working, learning and research environment.

5. Obligations and unacceptable behavior

In the application of this Code of Conduct, the notion of irregularities or undesirable behavior is defined as follows: "unacceptable behavior" is defined as follows is defined as follows:

- using violence, uttering threats or intimidating or harassing a member of the university community or one of its guests.

- interfering with the exercise of a function, the execution of a mandate or the development of a university activity;

- prevent, without valid justification, a member of the university community or one of its guests from entering a place of the University, circulating there and leaving;

- demonstrating provocative and indecent behavior, taking into account the circumstances;

- possessing, transporting, consuming, consuming, giving, serving or selling alcoholic beverages, unless there is written authorization from the written authorization from University management; - possessing, consuming, giving or selling drugs (narcotics, hallucinogens, etc.);

- making or disseminating hateful or disrespectful remarks, particularly in the context of personal work or a document intended for internal or external distribution, damaging the reputation of persons or groups of persons or promoting persons or groups of persons or that promote discriminatory motives.

Policy of non-discrimination

GUST code of Conduct Policy was issued in October 2nd 2013 and slightly modified in April 12th 2022.

In GUST Code of Conduct Policy, article I, Our commitment states:

The Gulf University of Science & Technology (GUST) is committed to the highest level of integrity and honesty in all of its affairs, without any kind of discrimination against women.

Equal Employment Opportunity

• If outsourcing activities to third parties needed, then GUST takes all appropriate measures to ensure the equivalent rights of employees are met.


GUST is committed to provide all employees with a work place that is free from harassment based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, social status, physical or mental disability or any other factor. Harassment include all actions of verbal harassment, physical harassment, visual harassment or sexual harassment .

Admission & Registration

Admission to GUST is on a competitive basis. Regardless of the type of admission, all applicants must submit all documentation to complete the general admission requirements.

GUST welcomes applications from students from all types of schools and backgrounds. We provide our students with the best educational resources and services to promote intellectual growth and career advancement. From the academic challenges encountered when adjusting to university life to the various campus activities offered for students, GUST has a diverse collection of resources available to help our students succeed both academically and personally.

Gulf University for Science and Technology takes women’s applications, acceptance and completion rates very seriously. The Admission and Registration department has a dedicated team to track and measure the rates mentioned on a regular basis. GUST University tracks both undergrads and postgrads female/male, international/local, and other ratios for admitted, enrolled and graduated students.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today considered the fifth periodic report of Kuwait on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Introducing the report, Jamal Al-Ghunaim, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Kuwait was committed to reviewing and modernizing legislation relevant to women’s affairs in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women; to promoting the political participation of women; and to establishing an institutional mechanism for the protection of women from all forms of violence. There was progress in increasing the participation of women in nontraditional fields, and today there were 500 female police officers of various ranks, women made up 44 per cent of investigators, and 22 female public prosecutors had been hired. A national mechanism for women’s affairs – the Women’s Affairs Committee – affiliated with the Cabinet, had been set up to empower and promote the status of women in Kuwait, and 16 May had been designated as the Kuwaiti Women’s Day to mark the day on which women had achieved all political rights. Kuwaiti women had paved the way forward for Gulf women, they had been the first to assume leadership positions as university presidents, ministers and members of parliament – this was a credit to the role of Kuwaiti women and the efforts by the Government to enable women.