Kuwait's parliamentary Women's Committee has rejected a Bill that encouraged women to leave their jobs and stay at home to raise their children for 250 Kuwaiti dinars (Dh3,193) a month.
The decision sparked outrage among conservative lawmakers. MP Mohammad Al Hayef — who submitted the Bill — promptly charged the members of the committee, all women, with acting against the welfare of Kuwaiti women.
Al Hayef said that the committee's decision to reject his motion to financially support women keen on staying at home was evidence that the committee's members were not in favour of helping women.
The Bill compels the state to pay 250 dinars a month to women who give up their jobs and stay at home.
"I am shocked by the committee's refusal because the motion is in the interest of women. Many Kuwaiti women would have benefited from the Bill given that a large number of them want to stay home and assume their social tasks which are much more significant and nobler than any profession they may have," Al Hayef said.
"I wonder why they want women to take up jobs since this goes against looking after their homes. The claim that all women want to have a job is not true. There are many women who would rather assume their social and family roles."
Many women have complained of the "frustrations of trying to work full time and raise a family."
The Women's Committee has rejected previous Bills submitted by Al Hayef on giving women early retirement and paying them only half their salaries during maternity leave.
Four women made history last May when they became the first female MPs in parliament, despite stiff opposition from religious and conservatives.
The Kuwaiti Government has been so keen on preserving the composition of parliament and the presence of the four women that it has weathered deep crises and attempts to dissolve it and call for fresh elections that might not be favourable to women.
The parliament's Women's Committee was formed last October.
* To eliminate discrimination against women in government businesses.
* To prevent the passage of unjustified legislation that would limit women's freedom to travel.
* To solve the problems suffered by the children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis so that they are not denied the same citizenship rights granted to the children of Kuwaiti men married to non-Kuwaitis.
* To provide good childcare.for working women through providing crèche facilities that should limit dependence on foreign manpower.
* To issue suitable legislation to protect women and children from domestic violence, sexual abuse and mistreatment.