Passports for Kuwaiti Women

504px-Coat_of_Arms_of_Kuwait-2.svg 1 1

I saw on the Abu Aardvark twitter feed early this morning that Kuwait women have won the right to travel and obtain a passport without the consent of their husband. That’s obviously appropriate on its own terms, but I was interested to further learn that this wasn’t a royal decree but a ruling of the country’s constitutional court. Indeed, in recent years Kuwait seems to have evolved in a more democratic direction in recent years than I’d realized:

It is the latest gain for women in the oil-rich Gulf state which has made a number of strides towards gender equity in recent years.

The presence of female MPs followed the granting of equal political rights in 2005.

I don’t exactly know how to characterize Kuwait’s political system. It’s a kind of old-school constitutional monarchy in which there’s a meaningful role for elections and parliament but the royal family also exercises meaningful governing authority. I’m also led to believe that Kuwait has significant human rights problems in terms of the treatment of migrant domestic workers and criminal penalties for “imitating the appearance of the opposite sex” by wearing inappropriate clothing. But presumably all that is just part of Human Rights Watch’s well-known anti-Israel bias and can be safely ignored.