Bahrain: Poll training for female candidates

AGORA moderator's picture

ALMOST 40 women have already come forward to run in this year's municipal and parliamentary elections.

Thirty-eight female candidates have signed up for training by the Supreme Council for Women in co-operation with the Bahrain Institute for Political Development (BIPD).

The women, who are all aged over 30, are being tutored by institute election preparation expert and Shura Council legislative and legal affairs committee chairwoman Dalal Al Zayed.

"We are educating participants on the whole process of being a public political and municipal figure, including skills required to run campaigns, how to deal with the electorate and how to act or react when in office," said Ms Al Zayed.

"There is interest from 38 hopefuls in this year's elections.

"We hope that number will increase, but those who come late will have a lot of catching up to do since building a reputation and image require a lot of time.

"The women we have now are aware of their duties and we believe will be real competitors when the election dates are announced."

Among the 38 who have so far signed up for training is 36-year-old Noora Abdulla Matooq, who will run in municipal elections for the Central Governorate's constituency one (Tubli, Jidali, Jirdab and Sanad).

She has targeted housing as a campaign priority.

"I have been deputised by my area's residents to meet with Housing Minister Basem Al Hamer, who first accepted to meet me, but later said I don't have any representative authority and opted to meet the area's MP instead," said the Labour Ministry employee, who has been employed on a temporary contract for the past four years.

"Wrong housing policies mean families are waiting for decades to get homes.

"If I get elected then all of that will be reviewed and changed as I work to speed up things."

Jehan Mahmood, 34, is running for the Central Governorate's constituency three (Isa Town) and securing better government support for women tops her agenda.

"I think current MP Adnan Al Malky is OK, but when I get elected things will be better - especially for women without sources of income like divorcees, widows and abandoned or single women.

"I am looking to secure more aid for them as well as schemes directed towards them."

The Bahrain Specialist Hospital public relations and reception director said she was driven by her desire to help others.

"I love people and want to serve them in the best way," she said.

"There are ambitious plans that I will announce when my agenda is revealed."

Another candidate is Dina Al Fayez, 40, who is currently Shura Council Affairs director under the Minister of State for Parliament and Shura Council Affairs.

"For nine years I have got experience in parliamentary procedure and it's time I represented my people," she said.

"I can't disclose my constituency, but when I enter parliament several legislation will see a change that mainly deal with the aspirations and needs of the people."

Huda Radhi, 38, is running for the Northern Governorate's constituency one (Daih, Jidhafs, Adhari, Tashan, Sehla, Jablat Habashi, Khamis, Ayn Al Dar, Abu Quwah and Saraya) and thinks parliament needs an injection of fresh ideas to help the younger generation.

"Developing youth projects and programmes will develop the country and that's not currently being addressed," said the businesswoman.

"Bahrain is a good hub for investment, but our youth has to be showcased as good workers and that's what I am aiming for."

Layla Rashed Burshaid, 47, is running for a municipal council seat in Muharraq's constituency eight (Hidd).

She thinks divisions that now exist between current council members have eroded its authority.

"People want their demands to be fulfilled, but current disputes are not helping anyone," she said. "When I enter there will be real change. "Fatema Salman won a seat on the Muharraq Municipal Council in 2010 to become the only female councillor in Bahrain's history, so there is now a better chance for us to make a change."

SOURCE: Gulf Daily News, March 28th 2014: