This photoessay was shot by Maha Al-Asaker. Maha is a Kuwaiti visual artist based in New York City, U.S. Maha’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions in New York City, UAE, and Kuwait. Her work was featured as part of the“ Art on Paper” in Manhattan, “Miami Project,” and “ArtMarket – Hampton.” Her work engages with identity and cultural issues.
Since arriving in New York, U.S. four years ago, people have always been asking about my identity. The general stigma of Middle Eastern women is that women are constrained in Kuwait. This work portrays Kuwaiti women inside their bedrooms; the most private space, where they can be the most candid versions of themselves. These are the real faces of the women of Kuwait.
1- Maryam Al-Nusif, 35, single, chef and gardener
Kuwaiti women are champions; I think they are more blessed than others. All the limitations and obstacles in their way strengthen their determination, empathy, and compassion.
2-Abeer Al-Omar, 55, single mother, senior executive in corporate communications & government affairs
Kuwaiti women are swimming in unclear sea; they are survivors. I believe that only when every human in society is treated equally, regardless of their background, nationality, gender, and age – without sectarianism or tribalism – then women will be getting their equal rights.
3-Haneen Al-Asaker, 41-single mother, financial researcher
Women and men are equal in Kuwait. I think the Kuwaiti woman is strong, stylish, and intellectual.
4-Djinane Al-Suwayeh, 29, single, art director and photographer
Women are not equal to men. You see it every day in the way kids are being raised, at work, and in conversations. I don’t consider myself a Kuwaiti woman, as I have a whole other half in my blood. I can tell you how it feels to be me; love in the soul.
5-Athoob Al-Shuaibi, 39, married, journalist
A Kuwaiti woman is lost between an overwhelming social responsibility and the building of her career. Women are equal to men in our constitution. However, laws and regulations don’t correspond with what came in the constitution articles.
6- Farah Khajah, 31, single, events organizer
It is not easy being Arab or Muslim in general, but if you know what you’re doing, if you know what you want, everything will fall into place eventually.
7-Thuraya-Lynn Al-Jassim, 28, married, government officer and artist
Foreign countries still have a long way until equity is achieved so it’s fair to say Kuwait has to step up its progress. To me, it’s not about being better or being treated the same, not all women of all classes or walks of life have the same goal, but it’s about getting a fair chance in life.
8- Zahra Al-Mahdi, 27, single, artist
We live in an ideological context that deliberately disrupts communicative networks between women in order to suppress any kind of organized uprising. The cultures of “Women who hate other women,” or women who discriminate against other bodies that manifest in other femininities are created to maintain a society of obedient lesser subjects.
9- Amnah Al-Mutawa, 31, divorced, orthodontist
Kuwaiti women are bold. I am proud to be a Kuwaiti woman yet facing difficulties in balancing traditions and the modern definition of equal rights.
10- Rana Al-Omani, 40, single, owner of RanaFitness Co.
We are forceful. As for equality between genders, where does total equality exist in this world?
11- Sharifah Al Falah, 39, married, information and marketing officer at Kuwait Institute for Scientific ResearchWomen are equal to men in Kuwait, they go head to head in education, political
Women are equal to men in Kuwait, they go head to head in education, political rights, and professions.