- Posted May 26, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
First Person: Your essays
Women – the driving force in Bahrain.
In his usual modest style, the Prime Minister of Bahrain accepted his Gold Award from the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International) and humbly dedicated it this prestigious award to the women of Bahrain.
The BPW International was founded by Dr. Lena Madesin Phillips in 1930. BPW International has become one of the most influential international networks of business and professional women with affiliates in over 95 countries in five continents. BPW International has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and participatory status with the Council of Europe. Its members include influential women leaders, entrepreneurs, business owners, executives, professionals and young career women.
This is a proud moment for every Bahraini man, woman and child, particularly as the PM has been driven by his passion and vision for a better Bahrain and carried out his work in an inconspicuous and unassuming manner. It is evident that his determination to overcome cultural barriers and encourage men in authority to offer opportunities to women in all fields has been a success.
As head of the government, the PM has acknowledged the crucial role of women in society and spearheaded policies and projects to ensure that women are granted more political, economic and social rights. As a result of his unconditional support, men and women in Bahrain have equal opportunities in education, civil and social standing, as well as leadership positions. Based on his dedication to women’s rights, it is an honorable achievement for HRH the Prime Minister to be once again recognized in the international arena.
The starting point for women empowerment is education and as President of the Education Council, the PM put policies and procedures into place that permitted women to choose a career path from teaching, health services to engineering. Today, females make up 47.8% of teachers in private schools and 49.5% in government schools and since education is the focus, adult literacy across the island stands at almost 60%. Over 66% of Bahrain University students are female with and 42.9% of women in the faculty are women.
In 1975, as Chairman of Bahrain Monetary Agency, the PM put a policy in place whereby a training levy equal to 1% of the total wage bill of every banking institute in Bahrain was paid into a fund. Within two years, 107 local banking institutes were paying the mandatory training levy and sending male and female employees for specialized training. In 2013, approximately 38% of women were employed in the banking sector with almost 30% in managerial positions which include chief executive officers, executive directors, managers and assistant managers. The increase of women occupying positions in the financial sector is an indirect result of the training and development investment which was further enhanced with the establishment of the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF).
The college of Health Sciences was established in 1976 and the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital in 1979. As part of the vision to establish a centre for international education and health services, the Royal College of Surgeons was established in 2009 and King Hamad Hospital in 2010. Today, women account for 48% of doctors, 91% of nurses and 60% of professionals allied with healthcare.
In 2010, the Premier was presented with the Millennium Goals (MDG) award for his pioneering role in furthering the global goals of sustainable growth by the United Nations. The criteria for the award was the government’s effort in achieving the UN Millennium Goals which are: eradication of poverty, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases, ensure environment sustainability and a global partnership for development.
The UN also presented the PM with a Special Citation to the Scroll of Honour for his efforts in significantly improving the living standards for all Bahrainis and facilitating modernization. The PM also received the UNESCO Avicenna Award for his interest in boosting heritage and culture. Another tribute to his strenuous effort to promote peace and stability as well as enhance sustainable economic growth across the world was presented to the PM was the African Shield by the African Union Commission.
In March 2014, the Shura Council Second Deputy Chairperson and member of the Supreme Council for Women (SCW), Dr. Bahia Al-Jishi, emphasized the significance of major developments accomplished in the Kingdom of Bahrain that had culminated in a sustainable competitive community through women’s contribution in all social, education, economic and political sectors in cooperation through relevant authorities policies and programmes to empower Bahraini women.
Today, women make up almost 36% of the workforce in Bahrain, with 51% being in the government sector. The UNDP Gender Inequality Index study in 2012 study found that Bahraini women were the most empowered in the Middle East and were the closest in men in terms of socio-economic parity.
A marvelous accomplishment for HRH Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman AlKhalifa’s whose achievements for the benefit of the people of Bahrain have once again been recognized.