Trend-setter MP on amity campaign

September 24, 2011

Sawsan Al Taqawi

As Bahrainis go to polling stations tomorrow to elect 14 lawmakers, one woman has taken a stand that has captured the nation’s imagination.

Sawsan Al Taqawi this month made history when she became the first Shiite woman lawmaker to make it to the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament.

The upper chamber — whose members are nominated by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa — has had women members from Shiite, Sunni, Christian and Jewish backgrounds. However, the lower chamber whose 40 members are elected in quadrennial general elections had never seen a Shiite woman until Al Taqawi.

Only one woman, Lateefa Al Gaood, a Sunni, had reached the lower chamber after she ran unopposed in 2006 and made history by becoming the first woman in the Gulf to be elected to a legislative body.

For Al Taqawi, 39, the opportunity came earlier this month as the country prepared for by-elections to choose 18 lawmakers to replace MPs from Al Wefaq Society who resigned in February to protest against the way the authorities handled public demonstrations.

Elected unopposed

She and three other candidates in other constituencies were declared elected unopposed. Those supporting an election boycott were soon exerting pressure on Al Taqawi to drop out of the lower chamber.

A mother of four, Al Taqawi, however, is seeking to calm tensions in the country. She told Gulf News: “There is not the slightest chance of us moving forward or cementing our nation-building process as long as this fissure [of sectarian conflict] remains,” she said.

“We do not need legislation as much as genuine and true practices and attitudes of the people. We all need one another,” she said.

“We do face formidable challenges fuelled by ugly sectarianism. We have been through difficult situations and we have come out stronger. This time should not be any different and we should work together to overcome the local, regional and international challenges and move forward. There is no time to waste,” she said.



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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