Celebrating Bahraini Women’s Day

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Bahraini women have made tremendous progress in all facets of society over the years. On the occasion of Bahraini Women’s Day, Eman Deabil shares her thoughts, and verified facts and figures, in relation to some of their most recent achievements.

It’s no secret that the Supreme Council for Women under the royal presidency of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, the wife of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has dedicated December first of every year to be Bahraini Women’s Day.

On this occasion, I would like to congratulate all Bahraini women on their notable accomplishments. Whether you are a woman striving to thrive and advance in your career, a mother taking care of the future generations, or a student fighting to equip yourself with knowledge, you all deserve a warm round of applause and a sincere appreciation for all the efforts you’re making to further develop this country.

The Supreme Council for Women, which was established in 2001, consists of 16 members who are public female figures experienced in women’s affairs and various other activities. The main aspiration of the Council is to empower women and help them prosper in a healthy environment governed by justice and enabled by equal opportunities. Since its inception, the Council has worked on setting a promising national strategy to enable the advancement of Bahraini women which can be attained through effective partnerships with all official institutions. I would also like to congratulate the Supreme Council for Women on its 21st anniversary and stellar achievements.

Recent developments in the Kingdom are in line with the Council’s aspirations, and in light of the royal directives of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain:

• The Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), Rasheed Al-Maraj issued provisions related to enhancing the representation of women on the boards of directors of listed companies (the percentage of women representation is currently at 5.9 percent – highlighted in the September edition of Woman This Month).
• The former Minister of Industry and Commerce, Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani, issued a decision to amend the provisions of the Corporate Governance, taking into account the representation of women in the formation of the board of directors of listed companies.
• Disclosure of membership statistics classified by gender for the company’s board of directors should be made available in the company’s annual report, annual corporate governance report. In addition, it’s one of the key metrics that should be reported as part of the annual sustainability/ESG voluntary reports (a reporting guide was issued by Bahrain Bourse).

What’s more, in the last decade, we were able to observe how Bahraini women were shining in various fields and at different levels. For instance, we were able to see three Bahraini businesswomen in the Forbes Middle East list for the year 2022: Mona Yousuf Almoayyed, Managing Director at Y.K. Almoayyed & Sons (#13), Najla Al Shirawi, CEO at SICO BSC (#45), and Narjes Farookh Jamal, COO at Bahrain Bourse (#50).

The Council of Representatives is another recent example of how Bahraini women have paved their path, climbed up the ladder and positioned themselves in the community. The table below illustrates where we were and where we stand as of now (an increase of 20 percent over 20 years):

The increase in percentages indicates many meanings; but mainly the following:
• Women over the years were able to build and accumulate the required competencies (eg. community serving) to be confident enough and nominate themselves for such responsibilities.
• Women were able to establish the required trust between them and the people, and between them and the government. They were able to stand out and make a difference.
• The number of supporters (be it men or women) to women (with the right capabilities) have increased exponentially, and gender is no longer a prevalent factor to vote as long you vote for the right person.

Aurora50 is a Gulf-wide social enterprise helping to create inclusive workplaces with a series of diversity and inclusion programmes for businesses. Diana Wilde, the founder of Aurora50, shared her thoughts on the occasion: “The theme for this year’s Bahraini Women’s Day is ‘Read – Learned – Participated’ and we can see that this is being enthusiastically adopted. Bahrain now insists on equal pay for work of equal value, regardless of gender. This has seen it leap 18 places up the World Bank’s international Women, Business and the Law index this year. Worldwide, it has made the most progress on the index’s pay indicator.

“Like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain has also eliminated restrictions on women working in jobs previously considered dangerous for them. And the Supreme Council has mandated Equal Opportunity Committees at all Bahraini public- and private-sector organisations”.

“As we celebrate the women of Bahrain today, the progress in gender equity at work is clear. Aurora50 believes that organisations will thrive if they champion diversity at all levels – from the board and senior leadership to the newest recruits. The phenomenal changes made to offer equal opportunities and pay in Bahrain this year will help both women and the companies they work for to thrive,” concludes Ms. Wilde.

For the people who think that we have reached our limits and ‘women empowerment’ is just a fad that will fade away, we say: “The story has just started, it has no end… and we have no limits!”