Bahrain’s Women Pioneers: Latifa Al Gaoud

March 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Six years ago, in 2006, Bahrain made history by electing its first female MP, Latifa Al Gaoud. It was a shining moment for women across the region.

While women were first given the right to vote in municipal elections in 1934, the new Constitution – which was adopted in 2002 – granted women the right to vote and stand as candidates in national elections. That year, six women ran as candidates and all were supported by the Supreme Council for Women. Their participation showed their determination to change the status quo; however, all of them were unsuccessful. Included in this mix was Latifa Al Gaoud.

Latifa Al Gaoud returned as a candidate in 2006, along with 15 other women. In total, women represented 50.2% of the voters in the election – a major improvement since the previous one in 2002.

This time, her luck had changed. She won the 2006 elections in the Southern Governorate, making her the first woman to serve in Bahrain’s parliament. Latifa Al Gaoud was officially a female pioneer.

After her first term in parliament, Latifa Al Gaoud nominated herself again in the Southern Governorate, this time unopposed. She was elected again to serve in parliament and was joined by three other women. In October 2011, the three women took oath as parliament members, alongside Latifa Al Gaoud, during the opening session of the National Assembly. The event was chaired by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

His Majesty the King praised the women during the ceremony, stating that they “[had] proven their aptitudes to compete for, and win, the honor of serving this nation and participating in the nation’s building process and in the reforms.” They were acknowledged not as women but as leaders of society, selected to represent the Bahraini public.

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