Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

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At the invitation of the Chairperson, the delegation of Kuwait took places at the Committee table. 2. Mr. Razzooqi (Kuwait), introducing the combined third and fourth periodic reports of Kuwait (CEDAW/C/KWT/3-4), said that women’s rights were a central concern and focus of the activities of the Kuwaiti State and that violations of those rights were not tolerated under any circumstances, in line with the teachings of the religion of the State. Justice, liberty and equality were established as the cornerstones of society in article 7 of the Constitution of Kuwait, while article 29 prohibited discrimination on the grounds of race, origin, language or religion. Women enjoyed full legal personality from the moment of their birth. Extensive legislation had been developed to safeguard their rights and those laws constituted their best defence against violations.

3. The provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women were fully aligned with the Government’s principles and aspirations and had been adopted as a key tool in its endeavours to uphold women’s rights and dignity. The Convention was fully integrated within the domestic legal order as a result. The report under consideration described all recent developments concerning the situation of women in Kuwait. However, the State had many more projects in the fledgling stages and many more plans for action to enhance women’s rights.

4. Since the consideration of Kuwait’s initial report and second periodic report, a number of important legislative developments and decisions had significantly enhanced women’s status. A 2005 amendment to the Electoral Act had given women the same political rights as men, including the right to vote and the right to stand for election to political office. That advance had been consolidated in 2009 when four female candidates had won election to the National Assembly. Restrictions on women’s freedom of movement had been lifted following a landmark Constitutional Court ruling in 2009 that had declared the legal requirement that women must seek their husband’s or guardian’s permission to obtain a passport to be unconstitutional.

5. Under a 2011 amendment to the Housing Welfare Act of 1993, the right to housing welfare benefits had been extended to all women irrespective of their social status, including widows and divorcees. Under legislation governing the civil service, men and women were guaranteed equal rights and benefits in employment, while special provisions provided protection for maternity. The principle of equal work for equal pay was expressly recognized in the Civil Service Act and the principles of equality and equal opportunities were enshrined in various other legal texts. The empowerment of women was also one of the main objectives of the national development plan adopted in 2010.

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6. Ms. Patten, commending the legal reforms that had allowed Kuwaiti women to enter parliament and the Kuwaiti Government to withdraw its reservation to article 7 (a) of the Convention, asked whether the Government was also reviewing the reservations to article 9, paragraph 2, and article 16, paragraph 1 (f), with a view to their withdrawal. To that end, she suggested that the approaches adopted by other Arab nations that had succeeded in withdrawing sharia-based reservations might be studied for guidance. She also enquired whether ratification of the Optional Protocol was under discussion.

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