Bahrain pledges to boost women's rights
Geneva, February 12, 2014
Bahrain has stressed its commitment to implementing laws to improve the status of women and ensure they become equal partners in decision-making.
The kingdom's National Action Charter and the Constitution ensure law enforcement and respect for rights and freedoms, including the principle of equality between men and women, of which laws, policies and programmes assure implementation on the ground, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
A 30-member Bahraini delegation outlined the plans during the 57th session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) in Geneva.
The team is headed by Supreme Council for Women (SCW) vice-president Dr Shaikha Mariam bin Hassan Al Khalifa.
Representatives of civil societies also attended, along with Bahrain's National Institution for Human Rights, to highlight Bahrain's achievements and challenges.
"Women have become key partners in development," said Dr Shaikha Mariam.
"Their rate of participation has increased in the labour market as well as in economic, social and cultural activities."
Efforts to empower women at the economic and political levels continue, she said, pointing to the number of important activities implemented by the SCW to enhance the sustainability of institutional work for the continued advancement of Bahraini women.
According to a study conducted by the Arab Women's Organisation in co-operation with the SCW, total percentage of women working in the government sector had reached 48 per cent, compared to 52 per cent of men.
"Also a research paper by the Economic Development Board indicated that the number of Bahraini women working in the private sector has risen in 2011 compared to 2002 by 73.5 per cent to reach more than 25,000, taking into consideration that women own 29 per cent of the commercial registrations in the kingdom," said Dr Shaikha Mariam.
Bahrain is proud of its efforts and achievements regarding the implementation of Cedaw as well as Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the United Nations Millennium Declaration.
UN officials were briefed on the various measures taken to strengthen the role of Bahraini women in various spheres of life.
She pointed out the recent landmark Governmental decisions equating between women and men regarding their eligibility to receive social allowances.
While taking pride on the strides achieved so far, Dr Shaikha Mariam said that challenges persist as cited in the third Cedaw report.
She also lauded efforts by Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of His Majesty King Hamad and SCW president, for her initiative in marking Bahraini Women's Day annually on December 1.
"The percentage of women's participation is a third of the national workforce, which reflects the keenness of the leadership to achieve the effective participation and empowerment of women in all fields," said Dr Shaikha Mariam.
She welcomed proposed changes to Bahrain's social allowance policy, saying it would give around 15,000 working women the same employment benefits as men.
UN officials were also briefed about the creation of a family reconciliation unit - under the umbrella of the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry - which will begin operating on February 16.
It aims to help couples with marital problems by giving them access to experts, who can try and resolve their issues before they file for divorce.
Dr Shaikha Mariam revealed that an SCW political empowerment programme in preparation for next year's parliament was underway
"Twenty-five women have already started taking part in the training programme, which will last for a period of one year," she said.
"In addition, other areas of focus will be tackled - such as raising awareness among voters, and encouraging them to participate and choose the qualified candidate based on their independence."
Dr Shaikha Mariam spoke about proposed amendments to Bahrain's law to enable children of Bahraini women, married to non-Bahrainis, to be granted nationality.
She also highlighted an impending legislation to tackle family violence.
"We realise that areas of improvement will always be present, and that all societies should proceed by making efforts to achieve further improvements," she added. - TradeArabia News Service