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Sun 1 Mar 2015 03:38 PM

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MP claims sexism is 'rife in Bahrain'

Gender discrimination remains widespread in Bahrain, according to senior parliamentary official

MP claims sexism is 'rife in Bahrain'
(AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

Gender discrimination remains widespread in Bahrain as a result of traditional views, a senior parliamentary official has warned.

Abbas Al Madi, chairman of the parliamentary services committee, told the Gulf Daily News that women were often prejudiced in the workplace because older, more traditional, men are in control of recruitment.

“In Bahrain now, most ministries prefer men over women in some jobs,” he said. “Younger generations don't have that problem, but the older generation does. There is still gender discrimination.

“Let's speak honestly - in some companies, the person hiring will be religious, an older man, and when he's looking at an application he’ll say, why should I hire a woman? A man would be better. We don't have a law that says we have to have a certain percentage of women and men.”

The newspaper said it interviewed Al Madi as part of its year-long campaign to highlight gender equality in partnership with UN Women.

The newspaper said statistics released by Bahrain’s Supreme Council for Women show women in higher education outnumber men by almost two to one: 61 percent to 39 percent.

Female students in Bahrain also receive higher grades and a higher number of scholarships and fellowships than men: around 70 percent female to 30 percent respectively.

However, men vastly outnumber women in technical and vocational education – by 86 percent to 14 percent.

And women with higher education certificates are less likely to find a job then men with the same qualification, according to the Gulf Daily News article, with 66 percent of Bahraini women entitled to unemployment benefits holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Hala Ramzy, head of the Shoura Council women and child affairs committee, said women account for around 40 percent the public sector workforce and around 35 percent of the private sector. She reportedly said progress has been made in the past 20 years but called for greater incentives for companies to hire women.

“As you know, by law women have paid maternity leave, feeding hours and bereavement leave.

“All these paid absences make employers reluctant to employ females even if they achieve higher grades.

"To change this we need to either change our law, which is difficult, or we need to change the mindset of employers by giving them incentives for employing females, for example.”

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