Bahraini Women dedicated to a Role in Parliament
Nine women out of a total of 85 candidates competed in the November 2018 parliamentary elections, but there are positive expectations of new candidates coming forward in the coming days (for the forthcoming elections), thus increasing the likelihood of progress in the representation of women in parliament in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
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Bahraini Women Continue to Push for a Greater Role and Share in Parliament
Dr. Fatima Al-Subaie, Analyst at Derasat
22 July 2018
With the beginning of filing of nominations, nine out of a total of 85 candidates who applied so far for nomination for the parliamentary elections in November 2018 were women. This number is expected to increase as more female candidates intend to register in the coming days, making it more probable that the new parliament of the Kingdom of Bahrain will have more women members than before. We hope that women representation in the parliament will at least reach the world average of about 22.5% as estimated by the UNDP Human Development Report 2016.
The standing for parliamentary elections by women shows that Bahraini women are determined to continue their efforts to play a more prominent role in the political life as called for by the constitution. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain guarantees the full rights of women to participate in political life and sets the general principles of gender equality in all fields and at all levels, and as such, it paved the way for women to participate in elections and be members of parliament throughout the years since 2002.
According to the Human Development Report prepared by UNDP, the Kingdom of Bahrain has achieved a good level of women empowerment in many respects. Bahrain ranked third in the Gulf and 47th at the international level on a list of 185 countries in the Gender Gap Index for 2016. Bahrain scored 0.824 on the women’s empowerment index, whilst Saudi Arabia scored 0.847 and the UAE 0.840. Values of 0.800 and above represent high empowerment of women.
According to the same report, Bahrain ranked third in the Gulf in the representation of women in parliament. Women’s share of seats in parliament was 15% for Bahrain, whilst the UAE came in first position with 22.5% and Saudi Arabia in second position with 19.9% in 2016.
The statistics of the Supreme Council for Women in the Kingdom of Bahrain also show a positive trend in the percentage of women’s representation as members of the parliament over the years. The number of women candidates increased from 4% to 8% of the total number of candidates during the period 2002-2014. The percentage of women members of the municipal councils increased from 2.5% to 10% during the period of 2010-2014, whilst women’s participation in voting accounted for 46.40% of the total electoral votes in 2014.
These good indicators of the levels of women’s empowerment, participation in the electoral process and representation in the parliament and municipal councils indicate that women in the Kingdom of Bahrain enjoy all their political rights. The role of women in political life has been enhanced by the efforts and strategies of the government and its initiatives in support of the empowerment of women. The desire of Bahraini women to participate in political life and their determination to overcome all the challenges and difficulties facing them, the high level of political awareness and maturity of Bahraini men and women and the strong confidence in the abilities of women all help in enabling women in assuming leadership and decision-making positions.
However, further improvements in women’s participation and representation in the Bahraini parliament require encouraging more and more women to run for parliamentary elections in order to increase the number of women members and bridge the gender gap that still exists in the parliament. Bahraini women have attained a high level of knowledge in sciences and culture and demonstrated that they have excellent practical experience and qualifications to play such an important role. But this also requires the strengthening of the culture of political participation among citizens and the sincere belief that women are a major and integral part of the political life and democracy in the Kingdom of Bahrain. On the other side, the elections process should be closely monitored and any practices that may hinder women’s participation or affect their rights must be rectified through electoral laws.