On International Women’s Month

March 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

March is Women’s History Month, and Bahrain is very proud of its longstanding progressive position on equality for women. Bahrain established education for girls in 1928; it was the first Gulf state to have social organizations for women in 1965; it granted suffrage in 2002; it appointed its first female cabinet minister in 2004; and in 2006, a Bahraini woman was elected to the parliament and another was selected to serve as the president of the UN General Assembly.

Today in Bahrain, women serve in all levels of society and enjoy unprecedented opportunities among their peers in the Middle East. In looking toward the future, it is important that young girls growing up in Bahrain continue to have the opportunities to succeed on their own merits. The Kingdom supports initiatives which empower women, through a focus on education, training and equality in the workplace and society.

This week the Supreme Council for Women announced the opening of registration for the fourth edition of the Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa’s Award for Empowering Bahraini Women, a first of its kind initiative in the Gulf and Arab world. Launched in 2004, the award aims to implement and increase the presence of women in decision-making positions, and not only does it monitor the process of empowering women, it also identifies areas in need of improvement. Recognition from the award has become a prestigious endorsement, which drives the public and private sectors to perpetuate a culture of equality.

The 2011 recipient of the award for the government sector was the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB). The EDB is responsible for a number of key reform initiatives which encourage the education sector and business environment to contribute to economic diversity and enhanced workplace and social equality for women. This is reflected in the EDB’s own foundations, as over half of the organization’s executive management is female.

There is a general understanding that the significant role of women in every aspect of Bahraini society is a core reason why the Kingdom is recognized as the most liberal business environment in the region, with the most skilled local workforce. In short, more and more people are acknowledging that when women are succeeding, the country is succeeding.

The gender gap is closing in Bahrain, thanks to such initiatives which encourage companies, organizations, and schools to empower women and girls. These continuing efforts ensure that Bahrain will remain and advance as a progressive nation that allows the best to excel no matter who they are, whether it is in business, politics, education or any skill sector.

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