Female economic empowerment in Bahrain

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on the march towards reform

February 14, 2014 was the 13th anniversary of the inauguration of our National Action Charter, which enjoyed the support of an overwhelming majority of Bahrainis. The charter led to the modernisation of a constitution that clearly stipulates political rights for women, and two legislative chambers sharing legislative power under one council, as stated in the fifth chapter of the charter. The charter recognised the establishment of the Constitutional Court and strengthened the independence of all judicial bodies, as well as the rule of law, justice, equality, freedom and equal opportunity.

These principles represent the most fundamental national principles that were accepted by popular consensus, which emanate from basic components that are in line with the values of Arab and Islamic countries and which guarantee freedom of religion foremost, the religion of the state, and the system of government. We shall exert every effort to consolidate these values and principles in the years ahead, as they represent our life and the progress of the people of Bahrain in their triumphant march towards a bright future.

We are committed to a comprehensive reform process that takes into account our circumstances and conditions, our national interests, identity and values, as well as respecting the rights of all citizens and renouncing violence, terrorism and extremism in all its forms. Furthermore, Bahrain will remain steadfast in its GCC membership and support the just causes of Arab countries, which are the backbone of its national policies.

Together we have attained many achievements and sustained our gains over many decades. We reinstated parliamentary and municipal elections, secured more public freedoms, established political associations, activated civil society institutions and fully realised our constitutional institutions, such as the judicial authority, the Constitutional Court and the National Audit Office, as well as modernising the executive power.

We have also empowered women in various sectors, and they have reached prestigious positions both at home and abroad, which is particularly demonstrated by the increase in their representation in the total workforce of Bahrain from 4.9% to 35.5 %, as well as the surge of female workers in the government sector to almost 51%. We can be proud of all these achievements, and we are fully convinced that we have to continue the march towards reform that we started together, and will bring to its completion together.

We are convinced and enthusiastic to exert every effort to achieve a better future for our country and all its citizens. As we enumerate our achievements, it is worth mentioning that citizens have reaped the fruits of their ratification of the National Action Charter, in terms of increased employment opportunities, improved level of per capita income and a decrease in the unemployment rate, among other things.

However, since housing is one of the challenges that are facing our society, the government’s efforts have accelerated the pace of construction and successfully attracted investments from the private sector to eradicate or alleviate any negative effects. The cost of housing services provided to citizens is approximately BD3.1b ($8.16bn) over the past years. The government plans to construct 40,000 housing units, which has an estimated value of around BD2.6bn ($6.85bn), in order to decrease the waiting period for housing to five years by the end of the 2016.

Nonetheless, even these achievements do not satisfy our ambitions and expectations, although we have not mentioned all our achievements and there are many more on the way. We strongly believe in our ability to accomplish more in the coming period, thanks to the concerted efforts and diligent work demonstrated by the national endeavours of our government.

In conclusion, we would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to all Bahrainis, both men and women, who participated in the referendum on the National Action Charter. Moreover, we are all partners in the homeland, regardless of our differences of opinion. To this end, we call on everyone to actively participate in serving the nation and preserving our national principles.

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This article is from the Country Profile chapter of The Report: Bahrain 2015. Explore other chapters from this report.