The Story of Bahraini Women in Short
The Story of Bahraini Women in Short
In the summer of 2011, I had a meeting with then British Ambassador Ian Lindsay in wake of the so-called Arab Spring movement. Bahrain at the time was engaged in a conflict with major powers that were trying to impose on us backwards forces, led by Khamenei’s official agent in Bahrain, under the pretext of democracy.
Such forces do not represent Bahrain and its people. I angrily informed the ambassador: “Look at me very well, I am who I am due to what God gave me and due to a wise leadership that has ruled Bahrain for 200 years.”
This leadership “granted women all the opportunities to earn an education and receive care. It allowed me to live as a free woman. It did not interfere in my beliefs or way of life, not in what I eat or wear, or where I go,” I said.
“These gains were earned by the Bahraini woman due to the nature of the system of rule. We did not wage a war to earn these gains, but we are prepared to wage it to preserve them,” I vowed. “I will fight to the last breath so that my daughter and her granddaughters can enjoy these rights.”
“As Bahraini women, we will not allow those backwards forces, and their backers in the theocracy that is the Iranian regime, to impose themselves on us,” I declared.
The Bahraini woman did not need a law that stipulates her quota at parliament. When it came to the elections, society gave her her share out of its conviction of her abilities. The Bahraini woman did not need to wage a battle to earn her right to vote, but it was granted to her by society when it voted on the charter with a 98.4 percent turnout. Society underlined her right to engage in politics without discrimination from men.
In fact, back in the mid-20th century, Bahraini women voted in municipal elections when several countries in the region did not even have municipalities.
When Fatima Salman was elected the first woman to the municipal board, soon after King Hamad bin Isa ascended the throne, she was not propped up by a party, group or a tribe, rather men stood by her side and her campaign. These men came from her neighborhood and she defeated candidates, who were supported by organized parties. Fatima garnered funds for her campaign from women and men from the Fareej neighborhood.
This is our story. Perhaps it did not receive enough coverage by the media, but it managed to overcome all challenges and women were able to obtain their rights with complete harmony and understanding from their society and region, where women often had to fight for these gains.
When Fawzia Zainal was elected Speaker of the Council of Representatives, her campaign manager at the time was her husband, assisted by her son. She received votes from her elected colleagues, including the men.
When Ahdia al-Sayed won in the Journalists Association elections, her husband was by her side and her male colleagues voted for her.
When speaking about achievements, I prefer to cite numbers because they are more sincere than hundreds of articles. When it comes to speaking about the reality of Bahraini women, then you are touching on something that affects your reality, perhaps even your private life. You are part of this reality. Its historic developments helped shaped our lives, us the women of Bahrain. What we inherited from our ancestors will be passed on to our daughters and granddaughters. This is a sequence that has not been interrupted for years.
As for the numbers, they speak for themselves and are taken from the Supreme Council for Women:
- Number of women at parliament: 15 percent
- Women at the Shura Council: 23 percent
- Women at the elected municipal council: 23 percent
- Women in the public sector: 54 percent
- Women in executive positions in the public sector: 45 percent
- Women in diplomatic positions: 32 percent
- Women in the private sector: 35 percent
- Women in administrative positions in the private sector: 35 percent
- Women entrepreneurs and owners of commercial registers: 43 percent
- Women in virtual registers owned by Bahraini women: 50 percent
- Women judges: 11 percent
- Women engineers in the public sector: 36 percent
- Women doctors in the public sector: 66 percent
This, in short, is our story. It is a story of a society that is at peace with itself and which strongly believes in the rights and empowerment of women. The Bahraini society comes on top when it comes to gender, more so than Bahraini women.