Women in Diplomacy

Building bridges of friendship and understanding through IWG


Mrs. Ambreen Mustafa, the new president of the International  Women’s Group in Kuwait is a warm person who comes across as friendly and affectionate. Her vast experience in diplomatic circles is an asset for IWG, which has been at the forefront in promoting interaction and friendship among a diverse group of international women and the locals. In an exclusive interview with the Managing Editor of The Times Kuwait, Mrs. Ambreen Mustafa shares her perspective on diplomatic and social life, as well as her experiences in Kuwait.

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and family

My name is Ambreen Mustafa and I am the wife of Pakistan’s ambassador in Kuwait. I am the President of International Women Group (IWG) 2020-2021.  I had my schooling and college from Rawalpindi and then my masters degree from Quaid-i-Azam university Islamabad in Defence and Strategic studies. Then I got married and started my journey in diplomatic life. I am a mother of two beautiful children, a daughter and son. I have worked as an educationist in various countries where we have been posted. I love to travel, and I am especially interested in history and exploring new cultures. I am fond of reading books and playing board games in my free time. I enjoy cooking and watching movies.

As spouse of the Ambassador of Pakistan can you tell us the role you play to promote diplomacy

Being an ambassador’s wife is a formidable task, on the domestic front one has to ensure that one’s culture is appropriately portrayed at events hosted at the residence, it has to be the right mix of cultural portrayal, culinary excellence imbued with warm hospitality.

While the ambassador’s job is largely to project and protect the interests of the nation, the spouse has to establish bridges over the chasms of cultural diversity, and in the process she reflects the true geniality of her cultural norms.

Can you tell us some of your past postings and activities in diplomatic circles

My diplomatic life covers a span of almost 26 years; we have been posted to Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, Greece, South Korea twice, Indonesia , DPRK and now Kuwait. I have always been actively involved in diplomatic activities by organizing cultural programs to promote my country’s rich and colorful cultural heritage. I have been the president of the Women association in my last posting. I strongly believe in contributing to one’s fullest capacity to your community.

Since your arrival in Kuwait you have quickly settled in and have been elected to the post of President of IWG can you elaborate on this

Since it is my 7th international move so it did not take long to settle and start a life and I must say that Kuwait is a very comfortable country and Kuwaiti people’s warmth and hospitality make this move more convenient. In addition to that, we have a friendly and active Pakistani community which helped us in this transition.

IWG is a powerful group and the role it is playing among international and Kuwaiti women is outstanding, they welcome you like a family . I am grateful to the IWG board who have given me this opportunity to be the president of this prestigious organization. I respect the trust they put in me.

What role do you envisage IWG to play during your tenureship

The IWG is very clear in its mandate, and as such all IWG Presidents have been committed to upholding IWG’s  ethos and core values of friendship and camaraderie amongst women of different cultures and nationalities.

I am honored and proud to be able to follow in the footsteps of my very able predecessors in continuing to fulfill our objective of providing a forum for ladies to meet, form friendships and learn about each other’s culture and that of Kuwait. I would like this group to grow and have more members from international and Kuwaiti women.

Covid-19 has seriously limited the interaction of your members gathering how do you plan to overcome this

Of course, the current situation with the pandemic has created its own particular set of challenges which the IWG had not faced before, so in that sense perhaps my tenure will be mostly marked by how we manage these challenges. We strictly abide by government’s policies regarding the current situation, most of our activities and programs are now online and we are trying our level best to think out of box to create interesting activities for our esteemed members.

Tell us about your experience in Kuwait so far  

Kuwait is a beautiful country and the warm hospitality of its people make this place comfortable and relaxed. It is well connected and the culture is similar to that back home . This country welcomes you with open arms and you start owning this place as home. I have been here for a year and especially this last whole year with pandemic has restricted our life yet Kuwait’s hospitality and warmth had no restraints and boundaries.

Tell us the challenges you have faced being a diplomat’s spouse

Challenges are everywhere! Being a diplomatic spouse carries its own challenges, it is not easy to pack up bags and start a new life after every three years, especially with school-going children. What I find most challenging is to say goodbye to people. You build your life around people whom you interact with on a daily basis, they are not your friends but they become an integral part of your life like the security guard of your street, or the lady who sells vegetables near your house. And then one fine morning you pack up your life of three years and say goodbye to everyone and everything. This is the most challenging thing for me.

What do you enjoy most in your life as a diplomat?

 Honestly, I have enjoyed everything about diplomat’s life. I consider myself blessed to have lived and experienced living in different cultures, being exposed to new languages and cuisines. I have friends from all over the world. The most enjoyable part of this diplomatic life is getting to know a new culture; it is both exciting and educative. First you are curious and then you become a part of it!

How do you see Kuwaiti women’s role in society

I am truly impressed by Kuwaiti women; they are educated, strong and working in eminent positions . They have struggled and made a place in the society with hard work and determination. Now you see them working diligently in every facet of life , they are in the National Assembly, in courts as judges and lawyers, they are artists and writers, doctors and in the oil sector. I was actually quite amazed to see such a large number of women working in the oil industry, which is generally regarded as a predominantly male field.

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