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US, Kuwaiti women attend Women’s Peace, Security Diwaniya

  • Published
  • By Capt. Melissa Heintz
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force women deployed to Ali Al Salem Air Base and U.S. Army women deployed to Camp Arifjan and Camp Buehring met with Kuwaiti women June 21, at a Women’s Peace and Security Diwaniya, where they shared opinions and perspectives to build an allyship and empower women.

Diwaniyas have been integral to Kuwait’s social, political and business life and important to the development of the country. Diwaniyas are a place to network where people from different facets of society gather to discuss topics of interest, form alliances, close business deals or introduce people to associates. Historically, Diwaniyas have consisted of only men but now have evolved into mixed gender or only women.

“In a country like Kuwait, it's very small and interconnected,” said Rania Azmi, Ph.D., founder of Alexandrite Decisions and president of Fadia Cancer Association. “And there are Diwaniyas, which is a forum mostly for men, and it depends on the family. Different families invite other families to talk about anything, but it's not only politics or economy or social, or even sports... so every, single thing that's happening in the world can be discussed.”

Azmi, who also serves as the vice president for professional development for the European Region, Association of the United States Army, participated in women’s Diwaniyas with military service members in the past, but the pandemic put gatherings on hold. When restrictions were lifted, Azmi linked up with U.S. Army Lt. Col. Nadia Moss, Base Support Battalion commander, Area Support Group-Kuwait, to restart the women’s empowerment Diwaniyas.

Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) prioritizes building and strengthening partnerships with joint services, coalition forces, regional partners and the host nation. Forging resolute partnerships helps strengthen and promote regional security and stability in the Middle East.

“Part of our mission here is to develop relationships with the home country and ensure that they have trust in the U.S. military and in the mission and support that we provide here,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Ana Ruiz, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing executive officer. “As military women, we're in a male dominated world and I think we have a lot to learn from Kuwaiti women who also do incredible things, and in many cases, work in male dominated career fields.”

The event was centered around the Chatham House Rule, where women could share information without retribution and increase open discussion.

“One of the similarities I saw was when women decided to start families and a lot of these Kuwaiti women have many children, they face a lot of the same discriminatory questions in interviews for jobs or certain opportunities,” Ruiz said. “They’re working on getting rid of that (way of thinking) so that women who have families can thrive in career fields that are often dominated by men.”

After sharing experiences on how they navigated through society as women, many found that there were more similarities than differences between the United States and Arab cultures.

“We realized it (doesn’t) matter what your culture is, your background or experiences,” Moss said. “We can all connect somehow and that the struggles are the same no matter where you come from.”

The goal for the Diwaniya was to make the initial connection and carry out the event on a quarterly basis. More than 30 women leaders attended the event to inspire each other. Many participants left the event feeling a sense of community with the hope of continuing the conversation in follow-up events.

“Meeting and having forums like this really empowers you in action. [You get to] see physical examples, real examples, in real time. You're not alone in these challenges, there is another sister and other counterpart over there, and we have to stand for each other,” Azmi said.