Women's political rights in Bahrain

Women's Political Rights In Bahrain

Women's political rights in Bahrain

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Women’s political rights have been a cornerstone of the political reforms initiated by King Hamad with for the first time women being given the right to vote and stand as candidates in national elections after the constitution was amended in 2002. The extension of equal political rights has been accompanied by a self-conscious drive to promote women to positions of authority within government.

The move to give women the vote in 2002 was part of a wide ranging political reforms that have seen the establishment of a democratically elected parliament and the release of political prisoners. Before 2002, women had no political rights and could neither vote in elections or stand as candidates.

There was though some ambiguity towards the extension of political rights from sections of Bahraini society, not least from women themselves with in 2001 opposed to extending the vote to women.

Although many women stood as candidates in both municipal and parliamentary elections in 2002 none were elected to office. Women candidates were conspicuous by their absence in the lists of Islamist parties such as Al Wefaq, Al-Menbar Islamic Society and Asalah.

Following the poor performance of women candidates in the parliamentary elections, six women including one Christian, were appointed to the upper chamber of parliament, the Shura Council. In 2004, Bahrain appointed its first female minister, Dr Nada Haffadh to the position of Health Minister, and in 2005, Dr Fatima Albalooshi, the second woman...
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