Expert Insight

Break Through Glass Ceiling of Law Profession in Kuwait Lawyer . Sarah Alduaij


In 1968, the Late Emir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the crown prince and prime minister back then, granted women the opportunity to work and prove her that she is efficient in the work field because he was deeply convinced of her capabilities. To set an example the Prince approved to appoint the Advocate/Sara Alduaij as a legal researcher in HH Court. By assuming this position, she got to known HH closely and she memories this period and reflects on his personal side.

The esteemed Kuwaiti lawyer Sarah Alduaij chronicles her career in the legal sector, as follows:

I have joined Cairo University and enrolled in Faculty of Law. I studied for four years and after graduation I returned to my homeland “Kuwait”. I have assumed my first position by the end of the sixties, specifically “1968”.

I have met the late Hamad Al Issa, Chief of Staff Bureau, and he said: there are a lot of vacant positions at the high level. In fact, prior meeting him, I have heard that the late Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the former Emir of Kuwait, by then he was the crown price and the prime minister, was in need to employees. The Council of the Ministries was composed of the General Secretary and presided by Abdul-Aziz Al-Otaibi and the Central Agency of Public Tenders presided by Ali Al Jasar, Department for Legal Advice and Legislation presided by Hassan Al Asmawi before Salman Alduaij were all in need of employees.

The late Hamad Al Issa sent me to the Cabinet, where I met the Secretary-General. He offered me a job in the Council of Ministries Secretary, Tenders Department, or Legal and Legislation Department, yet I told him that I know that there are vacancies at the Crown Prince Offices. He said I can’t hire you at this place because the Crown Prince select his staff by himself.

I told him I will ask HH, and he agreed to appoint me at his office. I am the first Kuwaiti Woman appointed in the Cabinet. I was very happy, as I was appointed at the Fourth Grade as a “legal researcher” in HH’s Office. Abdul Latif Al-Bahr was the director of HH’s Office, Faisal Al-Masoud was responsible for oil affairs, Ghazi Al-Falih for financial affairs, Issa Al-Asfour for media affairs, the late Ahmed Saud Al-Maqhouri for protocols, Abdullah Al-Abdul-Razzaq for public relations and Abdullah Al-Houti for Administrative and Financial Affairs, and I am for legal affairs. I have proceeded my duties and an additional works committee has been formed under the presidency of Faisal Al-Masoud and I was a member at this committee. In every Ministry we have researched to increase the employees whether due or not at morning and night and the amount was disbursed.

I remember Mr. Abdul Latif Al-Bahr, the director of HH’s Office summoned and told me that Sheikh Jaber has commissioned me to review the minutes of the National Assembly submitted to HH’s Office on weekly basis. Further, to deliver my comments from the legal side. The aim was to ensure that the bills proposed by the Assembly-Members are in conformity with the law. Further, if they were found doesn’t conform with the law, how to make it conform with the law and make the desires of the members come true.

HH’s position stance aims at honoring the women and her role. He gave me the opportunity to review the deliberations of the National Assembly through actually reading its weekly minutes. He had faith in women and how neat she can deliver works. In addition, Mr. Faisal Al-Masoud told me that Sheikh Jaber contemplates to grant me the pass to the storage of the international treaties and conventions in order to review them from the legal point of view prior signifying them. Yet we were occupied by the additional Committee’s businesses which is the committee formed by his Highness as he extremely cares and keens on the Kuwaiti Citizen and because he wanted to maintain their rights whether employees or the staff of the State, he authorized Mr. Faisal Al-Masoud of this mission and I was a member at this committee because he believed in the role of women and he wanted to pave the way for her role in the future. He was a man of vision and the Committee worked promptly and finalized the overtime rewards entitlements in the State for previous years. These amounts were approved and released to who are entitled to the same. This act was respected and appreciated by the people and the National Assembly as well.

One day, I have attended meeting with a counselor from Department for Legal Advice and Legislation, who told me to attend to the Fatwa Department, when available. The Department for Legal Advice and Legislation located near to the Cabinet at the sea and after several days I have requested from Mr. Abdul Latif Al-Bahr, the director of HH’s Court, to inform HH Sheikh Jaber that I want to review the records of Department for Legal Advice and Legislation. But unfortunately Mr. Abdul Latif Al-Bahr has rejected my request and told me that HH will reject my request. However, I insisted on my request and thus Mr. Abdul Latif Al-Bahr told me to move and inform HH of my wish. Therefore, I decided to inform HH of my wish by myself, but I was not able to do so, as I arrived to the door of his office, but I returned and repeated the same action for several times, even my colleagues were mocking on me. One day while I walking in the corridor out of my office, I have met HH Sheikh Jaber. After greetings and due to his good behavior with the employees, I gathered my strength and informed him of my wish to be translocated to Department for Legal Advice and Legislation. I told him that I am attempting to gain experience only, and he has no mind or objection on my request. He told me that I will not deprive you from this experience and if you wish to continue at Department for Legal Advice and Legislation, I will not have no mind. He further added if you want to return to your current position, it will be most welcomed. HH Sheikh Jaber was supporting any work that will raise the Kuwaiti individual.  

I moved to work on Department for Legal Advice and Legislation, where I worked for a period of seven years. I then moved to the Execution Department at the Ministry of Justice, where I spent seven years and then retired. After my retirement, I decided to establish a law firm and indeed has established it in Ramadan in 1987, after I read the legal oath before the Constitutional Court and registered the office at the Bar Association. It was the second law firm opened in Kuwait by a woman, as Lulwa Al Rasheed was the first woman to open a law firm in Kuwait, and there were other three Kuwaiti women working in law firms as a training. Historically, the first woman to open a law firm in Kuwait was Lulwa Al Rasheed and the second woman to open a law firm was Sarah Alduaij, and then the number of women who started their own law firms has been increased.

As an advocate, I do exert all of my efforts to obtain the innocence to my clients. Indeed, some people believe that I didn’t do all what I have to when the judgment isn’t in their favor, while others feel satisfied with the judgment because the judge renders his judgement after conducting the due examination of the papers, the advocate’s defense and the pleading. Each case has its own condition and actually the repeating of the questions and continuous inquiries by the family of the accused really annoy and disturb the advocate. Further, because the other advocate works against another advocate and each one has his own opinion and defense, some accused will keep secrets from the advocate and in some cases, they only tell half of the truth. Then we will be surprised by the official papers and after photocopying the papers we find that the words delivered by him to us are the opposite to his statements in the records. Sometimes, the opponent’s advocates submits documents, which prolong the period of litigation, and you agreed with the accused on a little amount and due to the extended litigation period you spent amounts more than the agreed fees. Therefore, the client shall be aware that the lawyer may request additional fees than those agreed upon due to the prolongation of the period of the case.

Our job is hard and tiring and may affect the advocate and his psyche. Despite of all the pressures I faced during my life, yet, my family and children never caused any pressure on me, as my sons always support me and they are advocates working with me in my office.

The success of Kuwaiti women is attributed to the support of the leaders in Kuwait to the educated working girl. The Ministry of Education has sent some employees and students to Cairo for education, and the State encouraged the education of girls.

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