Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 6, 2011

Paradoxes of Democratic Progress in Kuwait: The Case of the Kuwaiti Women's Rights Movement

Doron Shultziner and Mary Ann Tétreault

This paper analyzes the struggle for women’s suffrage in Kuwait to determine how and why it was successful. The research highlights two paradoxical findings: first, democratic progress occurred despite the pacifying and hindering effects of modernization; second, it was supported more strongly and effectively by Kuwait's autocratic executive than the democratically elected Kuwaiti parliament. We delineate two psychological factors that were connected to the climax of the struggle as they were experienced and acted upon by a relatively small number of Kuwaiti middle- and upper-class women: transformative events and the tying of struggle goals to self-esteem. We examine these factors in the context of interaction between chaotic political circumstances and the new strategy and tactics that suffragists employed in the last phase of their struggle. The analytic approach involves process tracing, field research, interviews, and longitudinal analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Published Online: 2011-2-6

©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston