Bahraini women rap new rights report
Manama, November 14, 2013
Leading Bahraini women have hit back at a new report that ranks the country the second worst in the GCC for women's rights.
A Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of 366 gender experts assessed 22 Arab states based on violence against women, their reproductive rights, treatment within the family, integration into society and attitudes towards their role in politics and the economy, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
Bahrain came 12th - behind Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, and only ahead of Saudi Arabia in the Gulf. Egypt was the worst placed country for women's rights, followed by Iraq, while the tiny island of Comoros in the Indian Ocean was rated the best.
But Shura Council member Nancy Khadhouri called for the authors of the report to review their findings and base them on the real world experiences of Bahraini women instead of statistics taken out of context.
"I'm a bit disappointed with us having ranked the second lowest in the GCC, I would have expected us to have ranked the second highest, or even higher - the total opposite," she said.
"Bahrain has gone a long way with its reform process, helping the Bahraini woman to better herself and be the best that she can be in society.
"I think this shows how important it is for Bahraini women to work hard at promoting their country and tell people who are unaware of our country how she can have her rights. It is very important for the world to know that Bahrain, a country that practises Islam, has always respected the woman,” she added.
Bahrain Women's Society board member Saba Al Asfoor pointed out that Bahrain was one of the first countries in the GCC to offer education for women, and said it was "a shame to be ranked second from the bottom".
"I'm really shocked," she said. "We have the same rights, or almost the same rights, compared with other GCC countries and practically I think we have more rights than them. A Bahraini woman has the right to have her own property and to do her own work.”
"She can drive, she can enter anywhere she likes, she can register her children in school. In other GCC countries they cannot do these things.
"In Kuwait a man must register their children at school and in Qatar if a woman wants a driving licence she has to get permission from her guardian. We have more rights,” she added.
Al Asfoor said perhaps women in other countries have better opportunities to reach higher positions in government.
"There are some points that we have to work on to have better rights than we have now, but I never thought that we were second from bottom," she said.
MP Dr Sumaya Al Jowder also dismissed the report's findings.
"A lot has been done for women's rights, the Supreme Council for Women has achieved a lot of changes," she said.
"From political empowerment to educational achievements and cultural ones, we have a lot of areas to be happy about - even in sport and mass media. And we are always looking for more and more. We hope that with the coming elections a quarter or a third of MPs will be female."
The Thomson Reuters report cited statistics from the World Bank that only 40 per cent of adult women are in the workforce, representing 19 per centc of the total.
It also highlighted the fact that although Bahrain acceded to the United Nations Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 2002, the country rejects articles on prohibiting discrimination within government policies, inheritance, citizenship, a woman's freedom of movement and equality in marriage and family life. – TradeArabia News Service