Women Empowerment in Bahrain´s Public and Private Sector

Sheikha Deena
Assistant Secretary General, The Supreme Council for Women

Could you tell us more about the type of work the Supreme Council for Women (SCW) is doing for Bahrain?

The Supreme Council for Women was established 21 years ago as a consultative institution to the state in all matters related to women; proposing new policies and recommendations to existing legislations and laws in support of women and their families. As part of its specializations, the SCW is also responsible for developing a comprehensive National Plan for the Advancement of Bahraini Women and monitoring its implementation in partnership with national stakeholders. 

To ensure proper implementation of the National Plan for the Advancement of Bahraini Women, the SCW developed a country specific National Gender Balance Model which is implemented by various stakeholders. The National Model, which was launched in 2010, is the leading governance mechanism in the field of gender balance. It seeks to balance the distribution of resources and to reducing gaps between women and men that affect achieving equal opportunities at a national level in policies and through the implementation of responsive budgeting and knowledge management initiatives as well as auditing and monitoring regulations to ensure their compliance with the principle of equal opportunities and measuring the impact. 

The Kingdom of Bahrain’s institutional work post the establishment of the Supreme Council for Women has been transitioned to a stage where women have become in charge of their own advancement, the Council has moved from the stage of advancing women to the stage of women advancement with a vision of equitable partnerships to build a competitive and sustainable society and towards being a national center for expertise in Bahraini women’s affairs.

How are you working with allies and partners to enhance the status of women in the backline?

As an organization specialized in supporting women’s affairs in line with global standards, the SCW partners with relevant institutions on a national and international level to enhance the status of women and their competitiveness to the national economy. The SCW today would not be able to effectively carry out its mandate if it were not for its collaboration with the various stakeholders. 

The Bahraini experience in the field of governing gender balance mechanisms at the national level, through the National Gender Balance Model is distinct. For exmaple, a civil service decree was issued in 2014 that mandated the establishment of equal opportunity committees in all public sector organizations, several private and civil society organizations later voluntarily pursed to foster such mechanisms within their organizations. The commitees aim to ensure proper implementation and follow up of the National Model for Gender Balance. 

The legislative authority is also one of the main entities in implementing the National Model by monitoring the country’s performance in terms of mainstreaming the needs of  women in development, and by investing and activating all available parliamentary tools and procedures to ensure adherence to the Bahraini constitution that compel equal opportunities. As such, a Coordinating Committee between the Supreme Council of Women and the Legislative Authority "in its two chambers" was established.

On international level, SCW also has effective partnerships with several regional and international organizations including UN entities, working towards the advancement of women, along with the sustainable development goals.

Could you provide us with the type of initiatives the Supreme Council for Women develops to monitor effective performance?

The Supreme Council for Women’s main monitoring and impact measuring mechanisms utilized within the National Gender Balance Model to guarantee effective implementation and tracking of data include, ensuring national budgets are responsive to the needs of both women and men, where the Ministry of Finance and National Economy issues annual memos, since 2011, that certify that the state budget is planned and executed to calculate budget allocation towards both men and women, therefore eliminating any noted gaps. 

The National Observatory to Monitor Gender Balance Indicators, hosts over 4000 indicators, that measure the status of women and men in national development, benchmarks Bahrain’s findings to regional and international statistics as well as produces correlated data for effective decision-making. In addition, a two-year/periodic National Gender Balance Report endorsed by the State Cabinet and measures the contribution of both, men, and women, in the economy is considered one of the key monitoring and evaluation tools to measure the impact of implementing the National Gender Balance Model at the national level. 

What can you tell us about the Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al-Khalifa Global Award for Women Empowerment? 

The Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa Global Award for Women’s Empowerment was launched by UN Women in partnership with the Supreme Council for Women of the Kingdom of Bahrain based on the experience of the SCW in conducting a similar award locally for over ten years showing positive results and impact at both the institutional and national levels. 

The award, now in its second cycle, aims to highlight the contribution of the public and private sector, civil society and women's rights champions to worldwide efforts for the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. It also encourages innovative approaches and solutions to achieve women's empowerment in policy and programming, and to provide a global space to celebrate these achievements.

The award is a reaffirmation of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s commitment to empowering women and young girls, leading national efforts towards the achievement of sustainable development.