Since the 1960s, Kuwaiti women have enjoyed access to higher education and relative freedom to advocate for improved economic and cultural rights, particularly as compared to women in neighboring countries. Kuwait's first women's organizations actively lobbied for the broader involvement of women in the labor market, equal political rights, and greater cultural
and educational opportunities. It was the 1990–91 Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, however, that arguably served as a catalyst for the eventual liberalization of women's political and social rights. During that period, many women assumed important social responsibilities and were instrumental in the survival of their besieged community. Some volunteered in hospitals to compensate for the lack of medical staff; others smuggled food, money,and weapons across military checkpoints.