Bahrain could see more women contesting polls
Manama, August 18, 2013
More Bahraini women could stand in next year's parliamentary and municipal council elections amid growing confidence from voters, according to a new study.
A growing numbers of female constituents are prepared to elect women to office compared to previous electoral races due to increased awareness, education and lack of solutions on certain issues, said the study, A View of Bahraini Women's Political Stance, by Bahraini Nooh Khalifa, a renowned author and media expert.
A total of 300 Bahraini women from different political backgrounds and age groups were surveyed, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It was completed in around a year and revealed that a majority of voters have a positive opinion of women in power.
"This can be due to experience in elections and ambitions to have women translate voters' needs to the national assembly," said Khalifa, who is also an Interior Ministry captain.
Khalifa said a total of 78.4 per cent of those polled wanted a solution to social and livelihood issues.
He also found that 56.9 per cent of female voters believe women are more capable of supporting various development issues in the country.
However, he said elderly women and housewives resisted the idea of female political leaders.
"This can be attributed to conservative backgrounds."
Bahrain made history when four women were elected to parliament during the by-elections in 2011.
Dr Somaya Al Jowder and Ebtisam Hijris won dramatic second round victories and joined Sawsan Taqawi, who won unopposed, and long-standing MP Latifa Al Gaoud.
The GDN reported in October 2011 that some constituencies reported a "massive" turnout of women - despite clerics sending out text messages urging people not to vote for female candidates.
To tackle such social norms, Khalifa believes the local media should play greater roles in highlighting women's success in office.
"It should also break traditional belief that women are not fit to work in political positions because it is a hectic job that does not match their nature as mothers and housewives," he explained.
Khalifa said with such media exposure women candidates can easily voice their electoral campaigns, unlike previous races where they struggled to find a platform.
Moreover, Khalifa urged women candidates to have a campaign agenda that targets a wider audience.
"They should have a manifesto which speaks to the whole society and not be directed toward one sector," he explained.
"Their manifesto should support development in sectors including society, economy, education and infrastructure. They should not enter as only representatives for women as this does not appeal to female voters, who should be unbiased towards their own gender."
Khalifa earlier documented the history of Bahraini women and their role in society in the books - Women in Muharraq, Historical Development and Effects of Urban Growth.
His new book, Riffa Women between Historical Struggle and Current Empowerment, will be released this month. – TradeArabia News Service