FEBRUARY 1, 2019


When the Executive Secretary of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Mr. Mohamed Al-Hakim, was appointed Foreign Minister of Iraq, several candidates were presented to the Secretary General.

As the most prominent post in the region, several Arab Member States pressed for their favorite candidates. By January 22, it was known that Ms. Rola Dashti of Kuwait was selected.

While some observers assumed it was due to Kuwait's membership of the U.N. Security Council, informed observers, however, noted the outstanding performance of Rola Dashti, regardless of Kuwait's Council Role.

In fact, Ms. Dashti is by far more influential in her country than an amenable staffer at the Kuwait Mission in New York. She is a leading economist and a long-time champion of Women's Rights and Gender Equality who served on the board of the Supreme Planning Council. From 2012-2014 she was Minister for Planning and Development and Minister of State for Parliamentary affairs. She also held key positions in research and development institutions, such as the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and worked for the major local and international financial and development institutions such as the National Bank of Kuwait and the World Bank. She has a Doctorate from Johns Hopkins University, a Masters from California State University-Sacramento, and a bachelors in Agricultural Economics from California State University.

Ms. Dashti played a pivotal role in advocating for the official decree to allow Kuwaiti women to vote and run for parliamentary elections. In May 2009, she, along with three other women, became the first females elected to Kuwait's Parliament.

ESCWA's headquarters in Beirut would traditionally welcome a Kuwaiti citizen due to the popular relations between the two countries. Ms. Dashti herself is half-Lebanese on her mother's side. Some certain male detractors claimed she spoke with a Lebanese accent. Many Lebanese and Syrians live and work in Kuwait while most Kuwaitis have spent major time in Lebanon. Particularly with the perceptive role of Kuwait's ruler, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed, who was the longest-serving Foreign Minister of any country, Kuwait has a positive, supportive relationship with all eighteen member states of ESCWA.