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Dr. Souad Ali Discusses Kuwaiti Women in Leadership Positions

The American University of Kuwait (AUK) held a lecture by Dr. Souad Ali, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Arizona State University and Visiting Professor at AUK, to discuss the subject of her book-in-progress "Kuwaiti Women in Leadership Positions." The lecture discussed the advances made in women's issues in Kuwait over the last sixty years and the findings of the research conducted by Dr. Souad for the book, which features interviews with leaders such as Founder and Chair of AUK Sheikha Dana Nasser Al-Sabah, Former Parliament Members Dr. Rula Dashti and Dr. Aseel Al-Awadhi, CEO of Kuwait Energy Engineer Sara Akbar; Sheikha Hussah Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Director General of Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, former Parliament member Ms. Safa Al-Hashem, among many other Kuwaiti women in leadership positions. The lecture was open to members of the AUK community and the public.

The lecture emphasized that, although the advances made in women's issues in the State of Kuwait through the years have been widely commented upon, limited academic research has been published on their material effects. Dr. Souad explained that Kuwaiti women received both the right to vote and to run in elections to Parliament in 2005-the first women in the conservative Arab Gulf bloc to do so. "In an unprecedented move in the region, the first four Kuwaiti women were elected to the Parliament in 2009. Simultaneously, the critique of Muslim women scholars and feminists is creating new spaces in Islamic theology," she said.

The works of these scholars have raised significant questions about women's rights in Islam and the Qur'an. Based on Dr. Ali's book-in-progress, this study presents authentic perspectives by Kuwaiti women in leadership positions in different fields on their work, the usefulness of feminist identifiers and theory, feminist theology, and the dynamics of Kuwait's reform measures. "The study is significant in that it allows Kuwaiti women in leadership roles to speak for themselves producing new knowledge and perspectives on issues vital to the advancement of women's causes in their society," she added, further highlighting the fact that this constitutes one of the many strengths of the book and the fresh scholarship it contributes to the field of women and gender studies in the Middle East.

Dr. Souad T. Ali is Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Arizona State University (ASU); Director of Arabic Studies, and was Head of Classics and Middle Eastern Studies from 2007 - 2014. An internationally acclaimed scholar, Dr. Souad Ali was an AUK Fulbright Scholar in 2009-2010.

Dr. Ali received an M.A. in English (American and African-American Literature) from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Utah (2004). She is the author of two books: A Religion, Not a State: Ali 'Abd al-Raziq's Islamic Justification of Political Secularism (U of Utah Press, 2009), and The Road to the Two Sudan(s), an edited Volume of which she is the lead author (Cambridge Scholars 2014). Her other books in progress include, Kuwaiti Women in Leadership Positions; Modern Perspectives on Gender Issues in Islam; and a Translation of 'Abd al-Raziq's Study from Arabic into English. She has also published numerous articles. Dr. Ali's interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary research includes Women and Gender studies, Islam and Modernity, Comparative Literature, Feminism in Islam, Arab, African, and Muslim Women, and Sudanese Politics. Founder and Chair of the new ASU Council for Arabic and Islamic Studies (fostering research on East/West multiculturalism and cross-cultural understanding), Dr. Ali recently served as President of the American Academy of Religion-Western Region Branch; and Vice President and Program Chair. She serves as a board member on numerous American and International Academic Associations, and is a reviewer for several U.S. University presses, International Publishing Houses and Scholarly Journals. Dr. Ali has been a Visiting Associate Professor for spring 2015 at AUK.

Dr. James Lambert

Dr. Souad Ali

Dr. Souad Ali introducing her book


Released by the Office of Public Affairs on the 21st June 2015

Photography by the Office of Public Affairs (C) 2015

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