Activists to use Facebook to push for election of women candidates

May 12, 2010

A Bahraini women’s rights activists group said that it would use electronic social networking to boost women’s chances to win seats in the next parliamentary elections.

“We are about to start our campaign to spread awareness about the significance of voting for women in the 2010 elections,” Sameera Abdullah, the head of Bahrain Young Ladies Society, said. “We will rely on Facebook to help women candidates reach the parliament and we will have a dedicated page,” she said.

According to Facebook Statistics for Bahrain, 214,380 people use Facebook in Bahrain, out of a total population of slightly more than one million. The number of male users is 117,620 while the number of female users is 91,200.

The activists’ group will also carry out surveys on the readiness of the Bahraini society to vote for women as their representatives in the 40-seat lower chamber.

Observers and former candidates have repeatedly attributed the no-success of women to overcome social resistance to their election to the negative role played by religious leaders and conservative families.

No woman candidate won a seat in the 2002 elections, held after a three-decade political hiatus. In 2006, only one woman, Lateefa Al Gaood, was able to reach the parliament, but only after running unopposed in her constituency.

The Supreme Council for Women, tasked since its formation in August 2001 with promoting women’s rights and elevating their social status, has held several workshops and campaigns to empower women economically, socially and politically. Non-Governmental Organisations have also worked towards better rights for women, but their efforts have invariably been defeated by conservative views opposing the public participation of women in politics or municipal affairs.

“We have set up a seven-member team in charge of the campaign to push for the election of women. We want to strengthen support for, and solidarity with, women as they seek to reach decision-making positions in the legislative branch,” Sameera said.

However, the activist said that they would offer only moral support to the women candidates, insisting that there would be no financial assistance.

The 40-seat upper chamber of the bicameral parliament has 10 women while the government has two women ministers.



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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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