These women have “challenged belittling stereotypes and become exceptional role models, not only for their compatriots but women elsewhere”.
The author, Chaitali Bannerjee Roy, has compiled a beautiful corpus about women who dared to pursue their dreams at times against immense odds and made interesting and far-reaching contributions to the evolution of Kuwait as a modern state.
Roy has included women from almost all fields such as politics, diplomacy, education, sports, art and business. It starts from a woman in her mid-50’s, Sara Akbar, CEO and Co-founder at Kuwait Energy.
“In her own quiet way, Kuwait’s homegrown ‘Iron Lady’ has broken popular perceptions of women in the Middle East and earned a special place for herself in the higher echelons of the oil industry not only in the region but, elsewhere.”
Roy has mentioned tales from their past, their professional lives as well as an added emphasis on their achievements in the country.
Others such as Dr Masouma Al Mubarak, Dr Moudi Al Humoud, Ambassador Nabeela Al Mulla, Sheikha Altaf Al Sabah, Lulwa and Balsom Al Ayoub, have also been listed in the book.
Some of these women are well known, while there are others like Dr Haifa Al Ajmi, whose attainments are not known to many, but is the first woman to get a PhD in Heavy Oil Management in the GCC.
Ajmi is a Bedouin woman who has, with active support of her family, risen above her circumstances to pursue her ambitions. These are stories that inspire and need to be told.
The author has touched the very base of feminism-equality, by including Dr Masouma Al Mubarak, a specialist in International Law and International Relations, in the list. Mubarak is a leading advocate of women’s rights in Kuwait and the Arab world.
She made history when she, along with three other women, won the election and entered the Parliament. “A momentous event in her life gave her a rude jolt when she first woke up to the realities of gender discrimination in her home country.” Roy has mention managed to seize the reader’s attention with such descriptive and real incidents from the lives of these women.
Other than politics and diplomats, the author has also included ‘women of art’ (pun intended). Fareah Al Saqqaf is the MD of Loyac Academy of Performing Arts, an organisation which actively promotes the development of performing arts in Kuwait.
From the world of medicine, Roy has listed Dr Shafiqa Al Awadhi, a cancer specialist and activist who raises awareness about breast cancer and tries to reduce the stigma related to it. She also runs a non-profit cancer support unit of its kind in Kuwait.
A former top-ranked karate athlete, Manayer Yousef Salmeen has also made the list with her medals and cups in national, regional and international championships. “Manayer has broken taboos associated with women’s participation in martial arts.”
The book talks about many more such women. The author, who is known for her passion to advocate multiculturalism, has tried to find connections between reality and how women ace leadership, no matter what land they are born on. Roy’s fresh writing and absorbing chapters make you want to read more.
Being a first, this book on women – that too on ‘the women of Middle East’ – had a lot of expectation, which Roy has fulfilled to great extents.
In today’s world, people know little of such women who have dared to step out and dream big, under magnitudes of restrictions and boundaries.
Such achievers have fought many odds and withstood multiple challenges to make history for themselves as well as their nation and society.
If you’re one of those readers who like to keep it going light and interesting but inspiring for sure, this piece of literature will surely shine bright from the shelves.