Gulf Countries Corporation Parliamentarian Women (GCCPW)
Shura Council

The Problem

A lot of women in the Arab region, and in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in particular, do not pay attention to politics because of their social, economical and educational conditions. Some even see that men are more qualified in the political work. Even though that Islamic legislations, international conventions and GCC constitutions assured the right for GCC woman in political participation.

The concept of the political right is not limited to participation in parliamentary work, but it is wider and more comprehensive that includes participation in decision making in various fields of government covering its three authorities: the executive, legislative and judicial. A women’s right in political participation includes her rights in all fields, in order to become an effective member and a positive participant in the development of the society. This also includes her participation and involvement in the decision making process as a citizen that looks forward to participate and gives her point of view and needs in the process of society development bearing in mind there are many women’s problems that a man can’t solve simply because she is capable of understanding her feminine nature.

In some GCC countries women have recently made considerable progress toward formal equality of political rights, but in others they have not. The governing elite in the GCC countries generally supports women's political rights, but strong social sentiment against women's participation in politics persists, as does economic and social discrimination. Nevertheless, the lack of available tools and services for women to communicate, share experience and exchange ideas.

In July 2006, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, at the invitation of the Shura Council of Bahrain, organized the first regional conference for women in decision making positions in the GCC States. This conference brought together women members of parliament, ministers, members of local councils, candidates and women working in parliament from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. This first positive experience confirmed the need to offer a space for women to debate and share their experiences on issues related to women's political participation and gender issues in general. Because of the important outcomes of the conference, it was organized again and again the following years.

Despite the above, the prospects for women's political emancipation in the GCC countries remain slim.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Due to the urgent need to develop a network whereby female GCC parliamentarians may continue to interact and exchange ideas, expertise and information, as well as to shorten time and geographic barriers in line with the information revolution and also according to the recommendations of previous conventions, a GCC Parliamentary Women’s (GCCPW) network has been formed. This virtual social network creates an environment whereby it is possible to exchange expertise and information among GCC Parliamentarian Women.

The network aims to enhance the participation of GCC Parliamentarian Women in both political and parliamentary life and identify the political and parliamentary achievements made by them. Also, it educates society about the nature of parliamentary work geared towards women and to focus on the importance of increasing public awareness of women's opportunities to take part in this field. Hence encouraging GCC women to be involved and take part in political work.

The GCCPW network creates an electronic environment between parliamentarian women, allowing them to communicate, share ideas and discuss different issues facing the modern woman in parliament. Currently the website connects 52 members; 15 from Bahrain, 4 from Kuwait, 9 from Oman, one from Qatar, 9 from the United Arab Emirates and 14 from Saudi Arabia. By realizing the problems, challenges and obstacles which may hinder the progress of parliamentary women, the network assists in generating a bright image of the GCC woman and in changing her image to a more positive and colorful picture – representing truly the essence of the GCC woman and her ambitions in life.

Global experience is achieved via electronic association with international, regional, and parliamentary organizations, which are relevant to the woman’s role, in order to enhance gender social issues and political participation.

The GCCPW also builds the capacity of women in politics by providing the following services: e-learning, e-awareness, e-women rights, e-conclusion and e-mentoring.

In a nutshell, the GCCPW network identifies the successful woman’s role in politics in the Arabian Gulf region and provides an electronic network in order to support GCC women in parliament and politics. The network encourages and supports women in acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to enter into or to progress in both political and public life. It is the leading GCC network with the strongest and most accurate repository for the exchange of information, expertise and consultation.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
As the Shura council of Bahrain believes in the significance of enhancing communication between GCC Parliamentarian Women, it accommodated and developed the GCCPW social network in order to provide the best services and information as well as to support a unique website which is considered to be one of its kind at the Arabian Gulf level.

Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of His Majesty the King of Bahrain, President of the Supreme Council for Women, launched the GCCPW website at the end of the opening ceremony of the 4th regional conference for women in decision making positions in the GCC States, which was held in the Kingdom of Bahrain from December 9 to 10, 2009 . This conference was the fourth in a series of regional events organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union to support the participation and input of women parliamentarians in the political process and solidarity in the region.

Based on a keenness to activate the GCCPW website and the desire to maintain relevant information, enabling it to achieve its goals, H.E. Ali Saleh Al Saleh, Chairman of the Shura council, issued a decree on the 23rd December 2009 to form a committee to study every detail of this vital project and to lay out the necessary foundation.

This committee is headed by Mr. Jamal Mohammed Fakhroo who enjoys long accumulated and wide experience as well as practical and scientific abilities in this field. The committee members are:
 H.E Dr. Aysha Salem Mubarak Shura Council MP
 Dr. Fowzia Saeed Al Saleh Previous Shura Council MP
 Dr. Fowzia Yousif Al jeeb Director of Public Relations and Media Directorate
 Mrs. Abeer Al Obaiduli Acting director of IT directorate (Project Manager)

And the technical team members are:
 Mrs. Dalal Al Eskafi Information system specialist
 Mrs. Fatma Khayamy Information system specialist
 Mr. Hashim Al Alawi Information system specialist
 Mr. Abdulrahman Bu Ali Multimedia Specialist
 Mrs. Hala Al Ayadhi Multimedia Specialist
 Mrs. Amal Al binfalah Multimedia Technician
 Mrs. Suhair Sultan Executive Secretary
 Mrs. Wafa Al Thawadi Senior Media Specialist
 Mrs. Noora Al Najjar Administrative Support Specialist
 Mrs. Hanandi Al Dossari Secretary

The Shura Council committee works in partnership with committees from GCC Parliaments. It has an excellent working relationship with all GCC political parties in order is to identify ways and means of strengthening the input of both parliament and women MPs in the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of national strategies and plans of action to promote equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment in the region.

In fact, women's participation in politics and their ability to exercise political responsibilities should be encouraged and facilitated, to promote an awareness comprising civic and political education, which helps women to know their rights and to become conscious of their capacity to have a direct hand in political life. The Government, Parliament, political parties and organizations, trade unions, non-governmental organizations and the media can all contribute to this process.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The Shura Council of Bahrain is committed to maintain a premiere social network ( that provides an online portal for all the parliamentarian women in the GCC area to communicate and participate in legislative discussions and to connect people and researchers with the GCC Parliamentarian Women. This strategy is built on empowering communication and connecting with similar minded women in the same practice, who can further their ideas to become a loud voice inside the parliament halls around the Arab world.

The task force developed a roadmap for the implementation of the GCCPW network defining steering groups, technical groups and other groups to look after the content. The main objectives for the task force were identifying the action plan for implementing, indentifying key barriers and implement actions needed to overcome these barriers, and developing a technology framework that provides for the integration of government services and information.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The website was first designed and produced in 2009 using Open Source technology (Based on Joomla 1.5 and PHP5). The GCCPW contained general information about Women in the Parliament (CVs, participations, news, reports, documents, media links, specific events, and contact information.) The website was offering a good repository of information related to women in politics and parliament. Online feedback made it easy to get the viewers comments and suggestions.

It was required to offer new services with enhanced user friendliness. Therefore, Microsoft SharePoint 2010 was selected as the framework to rebuild the solution. A secured and scalable infrastructure was built to host the GCCPW network. The features of content management and workflows were implemented. World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) accessibility standards were adopted, and continued efforts are made to ensure compliance to these standards.

More information was gathered about each of the GCC parliamentarian women and each member was given a dedicated sub site with updated information, member activities, press articles. In order to increase the awareness of GCC women and educate them in politics, e-learning facilities through some GCC institutes were added to the site.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
It is notable that many women in the GCC countries have ambitions to become successful politicians or parliamentarians but are held back by barriers such as lack of access to leadership skills, technology, networks and politics. In response, GCCPW network has developed an innovative solution that combines mentoring with politics to offer support to women in developing skills in politics. Also, the website promotes women participating in GCC elections

One of the most significant barriers to successful implementation of the GCCPW network was the resistance of the parliamentarian organizations to change. However, the Shura Council team managed to overcome this obstacle by the long-term commitment by senior management and improving the organizations culture.

Also, another barrier was lack of information on public services, as the information is not delivered from one country but it was gathered from all of the GCC countries. Not to forget the system compatibility of the different systems and databases in the GCC countries.

Lastly, the development team faced with the resistance from the stakeholders and difficulty to adopt to the new technology specially in the social networks. Hence, e-learning and e-mentoring services were introduced on the website.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Tools for social networking facilitated two-way interaction between the Parliamentarian women and citizens, and especially other women. Online discussion forums, blogs on the Network and community pages on Facebook have led to enhanced responsiveness. In addition to twittering, utilizing Flicker and YouTube and joining GCCPW groups through smart phones to globalize the network activities and news. Also, through contacts from other parliamentary organizations, libraries and press releases.

Many important repositories were created such as the legislative library, conventions and agreements, legislative resources, civil society sites, parliamentarian databases and women associations. Children were given a special attention to ensure participation in their activities and interests, in order to build up their personality and guide them to future.

Finally, it is essential to highlight that the commitment from Shura Council and other GCC Parliaments promoted the accountability, responsiveness and transparency of the site.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
As already noted, the GCCPW website was developed and sustained by Shura Council of Bahrain. The Shura Council made clear commitments of financial, technical and human resources. The Bahraini government had a strong commitment to expanding GCCPW services and continuing to fund it. This commitment ensures the financial sustainability of the initiative.

An additional aid to sustainability is the participation and input of women parliamentarians in the political processes and solidarity in the GCC region.

To assure the technological sustainability of the GCCPW network, improvements are continuously necessary. For example, steps have been taken to prevent delays in secure data transmitting, to increase the technical capacities for uploading documents, to assure the confidentiality of information, to improve Internet connection and to add more capability to manage space in the system and assure the continuity of the work.

The GCCPW initiative represents a model for all regions. This model for development benefited from being rooted in the community and enabling women, and especially those working in the politics and parliaments, to connect and transfer knowledge. There are recommendations to create a social network for the Arab parliamentary women, as been highlighted in some of the Inter-Parliamentary Union meetings.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The most important lessons derived from the GCCPW project are the following:

* Political will and government cooperation: From the very start, solid commitment and common goals on the part of the key stakeholders contributed significantly on the success of this initiative. The committee of technicians and specialists also played an important role.

* Public support: Because setting up a new social network also affects citizens, and women in particular, their support for the project was equally crucial. Their feedback helped in enhancing the services provided and expand the customer base.

* Ally for gender equality and women’s issues: The website examines how both the media and women’s associations can serve as a useful vector of change for women in politics and how women parliamentarians, the media and women’s associations can ally for gender equality and women’s issues.

* Investment in modern technologies: Modern technologies, such as using the Content Management in Microsoft SharePoint, have allowed major
advances in processing and storing data,.

* Transparency, accountability and responsiveness: The GCCPW network promotes accountability and transparency in service delivery, especially in politics and parliamentarian work. Also, the network enhances the responsiveness of the governments to the demands and needs of women

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Shura Council
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Abeer Al Obaidulli
Title:   Acting Director of Information Technology  
Telephone/ Fax:   0097317748886
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Shaikh Douaij Road
Postal Code:   P.O.Box 2991
City:   Manama
Country:   Bahrain

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