Sunday, April 20, 2008

Thanks for our Rights, Waleed!

We live in the information age. Before, public figures were restricted to one or two different mediums through which they could get out their message. Today, the selection is seemingly limitless. MP hopefuls have facebook sites, more well off candidates have invested in dedicated TV channels, and then there is the classic newspaper approach. Suffice as to say, we are hearing a lot more about and from our nominees than we ever did before. There is a problem, however, with increased exposure: eventually, the truth comes out.

Yesterday, a lot of the different channels, that have been doing a good job of getting candidates out there for us to learn what their about, hosted some of the political Islam hopefuls. Whether they belonged to the party or enjoyed a not so amicable recent divorce, these candidates agree on one major topic: women. Now don't get flattered just yet little lady, you may want to wait and hear what it is they agree on.

There is a new trend among Islamlist MP Hopefuls that involves them marketing themselves as the woman's rights candidates. Yes, you heard me. That's the pitch, buy it or not. In the local cooperatives, these same parties have been dependant on women for years which have kept them at the helm of cash cows such as Rawdha, Kaifan, and Faiha cooperatives. As a result, they were able to translate that strong foundation into larger scale politics. Hey liberals, you snooze you lose. That's the way the game is played.

Still, one can't help but wonder if the increased media and the fact that they are getting asked the hard questions will deter some of our female counterparts, and make them think twice about where to invest their vote. Or will it be the opposite? Will they be so smooth and convincing as to win over yet even more women? Mind you, these are the same women they refused to give the right to vote for the last 40 years. Well listen to what they have in mind for the fairer sex and you be the judge.

All the MP hopefuls, among them many that had previously been in power, discussed a draft law they have been pushing for that has failed in the past. It's being described as a humanitarian law which restores some of the God given rights to women. One of the major concepts is allowing women the option of a full retirement at almost half the time as men. 15 years, and she's free to return to her home and receive monthly social allowance from Kuwait with all the bells and whistles that full retirement offers. Incorporated in this draft law is the 8pm rule. From a humanitarian perspective, it is not right for women to work past 8pm because, according to what the MPs said yesterday, even the Quran said that women are weaker than men (move over Aysha, there is a curfew now) and their fragile physiques won't support them till 8:15. Their final point, and the one that truly portrayed their esteem for their female counterparts was the stipulation in the law that would allow women to go home early after a hard days work. When one of the MPs was asked why this existed, he calmly replied: "so that she can have time to go home, and cook, and make sure the kids got back ok from school". It must be said, however, that within the law there is a reward system for stay at home Mom's whose kid perform well in school. Enough inventive for you?

Thank God for television, newspapers, blogs, and internet. Thank God for those who dare ask the tough questions and reveal people at their truest nature. Oh, and thank God for political Islam, without which women would not catch Opera while preparing the roast. Thanks Waleed!


1001 Nights said...

Ok the 8:00 o’clock rule is mundane or irrelevant as far as Kuwaitis are concerned considering that most men and women alike don't work past 8. (And when I needed to work late I'd just take it home and whose gonna stop me so whatever.)
But the thing with the retirement. I don't know. I'm of two minds when it comes to that. On the one hand I don't want to drain our pension system. On the other hand, there are women who really are only working because their financial situations could use the extra salary - not because they are in any way, shape, or form career oriented. And for those women, I'd rather keep them at home than going to jobs where they do little other than chitchat, taste the local fa6ayir selection and compete over who brings the better bukhoor. I actually think having too many employees who are not doing anything can be bad for the good employees who want to get things done. What I would be REALLY worried about and really hate is being forced to retire early because of the law. I don’t think the proposed law stipulates that though. I am not sure. Having an extra option as a woman – not a bad thing as far as I’m concerned.

Q80 Saracen said...

1001 Night: I'm glad you said that because this is exactly what the majority of women think. "Why shouldn't we get to retire early? It sounds like a good deal"...

Retiring early means women will leave the workforce, a lot of times without having reached leadership positions. Lack of female leaders will lead to a decrease in the female influence in the country. No female influence in the country leads to all us macho men boppin our heads to the song:

"This is a maaaan's world"

while we drive to our manly men institutions which are now depleted of women directors or VPs. What about the going home early? Guess what? In Kuwait...we have no law that says you can raise a lawsuit against someone for firing you based on gender. Moreover, there is nothing to regulate gender based hiring. So, as a business owner, there ain't noooo way I'm hiring someone who's going to go home early every time her kid has a booboo...

I wish there was a filter to keep gum chewing, unproductive, wizaarat chicas at home while the hardworking ones are brought to help the country. The fact is with the gum chewers, you lose the good women too because retiring early is not tempting to unproductive is tempting to all.

As for the 8 pm rule, I've seen a Kuwaiti marketing executive at Avenues, 9 pm or so in one of the stores. She was helping customers, workin behind the cashier and generally monitoring the store. Finally, la2ana wayed garagt, there are some women who do their shopping after 8 pm and would rather be helped by a woman in woman stores. The law includes expat workers so best get over any shyness you girls have...

1001 Nights said...

Number one, your argument is based on the premise that retiring early is tempting to all. I disagree. I think it can be emotionally difficult for career oriented women, like career oriented men, to stop working because of their attachment to their career.
As for your leadership issue, if you start working at 22 or 23 then 15 years down the line you’d be 37 or 38 by which time you should have realistically speaking already attained a leadership position.
And going home before 8 DOES NOT CONSTITUTE GOING HOME EARLY and ultimately getting fired / or not hired for that reason. Let’s be realistic and not base our arguments on the exceptions; the very vast majority of job fields do not require you stay that late.
( I must admit though that I do see ladies working late in the retail sector and I hope this law doesn't apply to them because I certainly prefer being helped by a woman.)

Q80 Saracen said...

1001 nights: I'm going to give a chance for others to weigh in, but this is a small correction to what we were talking about which I'm glad you brought up...

When I said "leaving early", I was not reffering to 8 pm...I was talking about the other stipulation which allows the woman to go home several hours before the end of the man's work day be it at 3 pm, 6 pm etc...

Basically, it was thrown in so that she can be home by lunch time for her kids. Of course, 8 pm is not early at all and most people don't stay that late. How would you like to have an employee who was legally allowed to leave several hours before the men? What about your dictations after 12...

(I kinda ended up weighing in, ha? Yallla ma3alay)

1001 Nights said...

I am not aware of this leaving at 3 or much earlier than a male employee thing. You're saying that's a law as well? Leaving well before the end of the workday!??

And NO I am not comfortable with that and I definitely can see how that can ultimately become an excuse to avoid hiring women.

Ahmed© said...

i agree with the fact that women should get retired earlier than men, its because the Quraan said that women are weaker and more fragile than men, why should we suck every bit of energy they have in them and spend it on work? dont they have homes to attend? arent Women the foundation of every house in the world? i support this decision because of the fact that i always seek women's comfort in my life whether its family, friends..etc *ara3i il 7areem* and the fact that were living in a country where alots of its population is raised by MAIDS *5adam*, you can see em in the street, those abo 20 w nazil, at least women will be more relaxed and be spending time around their families taking care of them and IF shes one of those women who rely on maids in order to raise their children then i suggest to TRY to make up the time she lost while they were growing up.

women are No LESS productive then men in WORK *except the fact that men spend 90% of their time drinking and reading the newspaper while women use 90% of their time for the chitchat *7ash* :P * but why not retire early? why not retire and start a private business? i actually suggest that they do the same thing to men, men should retire early too because

1- il mitqa3deen nashifaw il 7kooma bil ziyadat w mo 3ajibhom shay

2- theres a HUGE gap in the system, our youth needs more job, what to do? build another DEATH STAR *star wars PLANET WEAPON :P* or give the chance for them on the expanse of other who served for too long?

يا شياب و يا حجيات, لو دامت لغيرك لما اتصلت اليك


eshda3wa said...

ah waleed
my favorite mp of all

i have seen a few commercials for 7ds wala the boys are going out of their way this time around.

you know i had a very similar discussion with my cousin.

She kept on complaining about how we cant move forward or put our energy into anything new and productive because we are too busy trying to keep the islamists at bay!

and its true, we take one step forward they push us two steps back!

Another thing that saddens me is the mentality of many MANY women in our society!
a lot of them actually like being inferior, like being vulnerable and taken care of.

When the 8 pm rule first saw the light of day many women supported it, claiming ee a7san ma nabi net3ab. Not stopping for a moment to think what about those that want to et3ab?
What about our freedom of CHOICE.

yeah thanks waleed, but no thanks

Q80 Saracen said...

Ahmed: I respect your right to hold that particular view. Its a view that obviously many people share in Kuwait. Nonetheless, in the spirit of debate, I'm going to do my best to dismantle it...(breathes Darth Vader style...everyone knows the Death Star A)

You said that you have this view because you "always seek women's comfort in life". Educated and career oriented women have more exposure to life, and perform much better in terms of providing comfort and even wisdom. Statistically speaking, children with two parents that work perform better in school than those with housewife parents. So while I agree that too much emphasis on the maids is bad, as a product of Kumari-Care...The effect is often exaggerated for dramatic effect and this is why:

1.) The majority of the day is spent in schools.

2.) Both parents, typically, come home one to two hours after their children (I think they can handle il faraaq)

3.) Houses that generate two incomes can spend more money on education, and increase the quality of life of children in general.

In terms of productivity, lil asaf, women proved to be even more productive than men. 70% of Kuwait University is women, while a huge percentage of Kuwaitis go on to vocational schools, military, or simply straight into the career. This is fact, not speculation. I think we cannot negate the importance of college education even though it is not a measure of one's future potential.

Finally, you last point...3ajeeb! If the men retire early, and the women retire early...than in effect, no one is retiring early, they are all just retiring (Dar raasy). If you support earlier retirement for all Kuwaitis, that's a whole different topic.

My objection is to the fact that people who are supporting these laws are making a complete power play with the goal of sidelining women. I support what's good for Kuwait, and that's having educated people in the positions that require them. In this country, women are statistically, more educated than men. Why should we miss out on that resource because wulla they cannot lift as many potato sacks as we can on their fragile little shoulders?

I'm not sure of whether or not this comes out clear, just through my personality, but I have tremendous respect for housewives. I think they make a huge sacrifice because they in effect give up their lives to serve the lives of the people they love. Bes ma3a ashad il i7tiraam, if you're going to make that sacrifice, don't expect me to cough up the buck for early retirement because then its not sacrifice...its just a damn good deal.

Q80 Saracen said...

Eshda3wa: The truth is, Political Islam is smart, organized and has a message that...well that's heaven on earth (and after earth). That's a tough cookie to crack...

But the truth is, your cousin is more right than she may know. All movements, be them moderate or liberals have been on the defensive for years now. Dedicated to reaction as opposed to action. Their lack of organization, inner quarrels, and detachment from the average joe didn't help.

I'm more optimistic than you, though. I don't feel women want to be inferior. Its just that they still don't know they have a choice. With education, and youth like yourself who talk to the older generations, this election is seeing an increase of women independent thinkers. A colleague at work told me that in the last election, he was able to tell his wife who to vote for even though she wasn't completely convinced of that person. He says this time around, there is no way she is listening to him.

Women have an obligation to each other...but convincing them of that is in itself a difficult task. But you can't fight time, and the proof of that is after 40 years of waiting, time gave women the right to vote...Lets see what else it will bring.

Anonymous said...

I wish to make a correction...

Dr. Waleed Al-Tabtabaee is a member of Salfiya 3ilmiya, not 7adas.

As for the discussion on working until 8pm, retiring early, leaving work early, etc. I wish to state the obvious: all of these laws are meant to keep women out of the workplace, because women supposedly belong at home, not the office.

It is not about women being the weaker sex, nor what the Holy Quran stipulates about women needing financial caretaking from men, nor even what this conservative, Arab, Muslim society expects from 54% of its population; it is just about keeping women at home.

I work in the oil industry, and I wish to share my experience in the workplace.

The oil industry, and the country in general, invests heavily in sending high performing high school students abroad to gain engineering degrees, MBAs, and other college degrees of dire need to the Kuwaiti economy. Many of the best performers in universities abroad are women.

We also try as best as possible to hire the top of the top in terms of engineering and economics graduates from KU; they are usually women.

We keep an eye out for high flyers at the office/ refinery, etc. and train them to juggle several assignments at the same time; a large percentage of these high flyers are women.

We expose them to managers that often are horrendous people in desperate need of therapy, so they can learn to handle different management styles. Because of the over-sensitive/ bad-tempered nature of many of our young men, most of the employees that get shitted on managerially are young women.

Based on all of the above, should we change the system our economy has been built on by preventing women from pursuing degrees abroad, thereby making them less attractive to recruiters; preventing women from on-the job training, thereby keeping them from reaching the glass ceiling; allowing them to go home early if they get morning sickness or a broken nail, because God forbid they get yelled at by some loser at the office; and then topping it off by allowing them to retire at age 38, so they can some room for some schmuck with a 2.2 GPA from Boondocks State University to take her place at work?

Is this how we plan on becoming the financial center of the Gulf? I hardly think so!

Anonymous said...

By the way, the following women work way past 8pm:

lawyers, ob/gyns, nurses, traders, oil industry sales reps... and inshallah soon, Members of Parliament :-)

Ahmed© said...

i support retiring early, bs! theb7ona hal shiyyab makleen wathayif 3al shabab! tlagi ykammil fog il 3omr il m3ayyin bil wa96a w maskeen hal mit5arrij mara7 yilgala watheefa san3a eb sibbat'hom

ps: did you noticed that your latest posts have awakened the dark-side of women? il 3moom dasheen eb a39aab! 7ajjy il wa7id ma y7ib yrid 7ag il mawthoo3 w yshoof shno 9ar 3lashan chithy :\

3al 3moom..
best of lucks in your future posts inshallah, as for me, im excused :)

Q80 Saracen said...

Anon: To clarify, in spite of the post's title, I was talking about all people who support such a law...and not Salaf or any political grouping specifically. LOL...2.2 from Boondock University? Priceless...

Its a shame to see what the oil sector has come to. I remember that at one time, it was hailed as a pioneer when compared with other governmental institutions. Some even said that it is run like a private sector company. If what you and others are saying is true, then that isn't the case anymore.

As for the rest of your points, I think I've made it clear where I stand. Fair is fair, and laws such as this are double edged swords which hurt the society as well as the people they claim to protect.

Ahmed: What you said about Shiyaab is true about politics too...My 9eer chithee, la2ana wayed min il sqaar, shabab ow banat ma ga3ad ya5thoon fursat-houm...but with this election, it looks like its changing.

Affa 3laik ya Ahmed, this is democracy and debate. Hathee usoolha,ow ma lam yakoon fee hujoom shu5see, yajub il wa7id yi7tirim ray il a5areen ow yi rid 3laihoum. Laat fich, tara I didn't start this blog to preach to choir and I'm interested in all other perspectives on any topic including yours. Particularly Star Wars-iyat.

intlxpatr said...

What I find the very most scary thing about the proposed laws is that they are thinly disguised protectionism.

When you are talking about who you are going to hire, you are talking about who is serious about being in the workplace, and legislation like that will handicap competant women seeking serious positions and credibility.

It is also not a far step from protecting women from having to deal with the ugliness of commercialism (allow them to remain almost exclusively in their homes), free them from the responsibility of managing their own finances (freeing up some cash for those irresistable opportunities on the Bourse) and freeing them from having to make important decisions about the family, education, etc.

Very scary.

I am totally amazed the Kuwaiti women wouldn't see through that. They like having their own money, they like having their own social life and the like having their own choices, or so I am told.

You're doing some of the best writing in Kuwait, Saracen.

Q80 Saracen said...

Intlxpatr: You hit the nail on the head. I mean it took you seconds to come up of ways to market anti-woman laws as an actual step forward in our development.

Many Kuwaiti women do see through that but here is the problem...Its a good deal. For non-politicized women, and there are a lot, this comes off as a gift. I mean you can't expect most women to be politicized when you didn't give them a chance to play a role in the nation's politics for 40 years. In turn, when they hear early retirement, getting home early and they manage to squeeze in the law longer Maternity leave...its very appealing. Awareness is the key here...with more awareness, tricks such as this will never work.

Q80 Saracen said...

Intlxpatr: Thank you so much. Coming from a well established blogger such as yourself, I feel flattered and honored.