National Model for the Integration of Women’s Needs in Development (2014-2016)
Supreme Council for Women

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
 Indicators and studies showed a gender gap in favor of men in most fields. For example, despite that Bahraini women represent 49.4% of the total number of Bahraini citizens according to demographic estimations of 2011, and the fact that women and men enjoy equal educational opportunities at all levels, along with the high rate of women employment, a gender gap in favor of men persists in all sectors in terms of executive and leadership positions. Gender-based statistics regarding executive positions in the public sector in 2011 indicate that women representation in such positions did not pass 30%. The issue here is the weak implementation of the concepts of equal opportunities and mainstreaming women’s needs to ensure the effective participation of women.  The Supreme Council for Women started, since its establishment, to measure the gap between men and women in different fields, and addressed the obstacles hindering the mainstreaming of women’s needs in development. The National Strategy for the Advancement of Bahraini women was developed and became the first strategy of its kind to be approved by the Head of State in the Arab World. SCW developed the National Plan to implement the Strategy in partnership with all sectors of the society during the period 2007-2012. The plan is based on evaluating the reality of women and the unsatisfactory aspects of fulfilling the needs of Bahraini women, thus programs and projects were designed to bridge these gaps.  This realistic vision of women’s needs led SCW to develop a national project to mainstream the needs of women in development as a primary means of opening channels of societal cooperation with the objective of offering the capacities and the appropriate economic and social environment to support the development of women and mainstreaming their needs in development plans and policies. The most prominent outcomes of the project is holding 3 consecutive conferences on gender and mainstreaming the needs of women in development in 2008, 2010 and 2013, for the purpose of raising the awareness regarding the concept of mainstreaming the needs of women in development, along with methods of planning and analysis of ministries’ plans and projects to guarantee meeting the needs of women to mainstream them in the governmental programs and plans. The first conference (2008) highlighted several gaps to be bridged to reach social justice between men and women and to ensure equal opportunities.  Although SCW works through partnerships to bridge the gap, there was no institutional mechanism to follow-up on the issues related to Bahraini women and the national efforts to mainstream the needs of women and ensure equal opportunities.  Therefore, it was necessary to develop a national model with specific themes and steps to indicate the means of mainstreaming women’s needs and to ensure equal opportunities according to national inputs, thus to be reflected on the status of women in a positive manner.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
 This initiative is a result of combined societal efforts by governmental and non-governmental institutes which participated in the Second National Conference for Bahraini Women (2010) organized by SCW under the theme “Mainstreaming the Needs of Women in Comprehensive Development Programs.. Role of National Plans” “Equal Opportunities.. Justice and Progress for All”.  The conference aimed at defining the features of a national model for mainstreaming women’s needs in the government’s work plan (national development plan), consisting of mechanisms of mainstreaming and defining the roles of partners. The National Development Plan is considered as the National Strategy for the ministries and governmental entities based on the Economic Vision of the Kingdom of Bahrain 2030. It also indicates the incentives of reform and progress in the Kingdom in economic, policy-making and societal basis founded on the principles of sustainability, justice and competitiveness; the same principles upon which the National Model for Mainstreaming Women’s Needs in Development is based.  SCW along with governmental, private sector and civil society institutions as well as a number of academicians and international consultants participated in developing the national model. It was approved as a roadmap for national efforts to enhance the status of Bahraini women, with the aim of achieving sustainable impact on the economic, social and developmental levels. This is done through activating the themes of the model; policies, training, raising awareness, partners, following up and evaluation.  SCW began the process of implementing the policies theme, which includes establishment of equal opportunity units, which was optional at that time for ministries and other governmental entities, and budgets responsive to women’s needs. 35% of the ministries and governmental entities established these committees through an operational plan developed in partnership with SCW. This resulted in raising awareness with regards to mainstreaming women’s needs among decision makers and employees. The achievement include ensuring equality between married women and men employees in terms of social allowance eligibility by the equal opportunity unit at the Council of Representative (Nuwab Council). Accordingly, resolution N. 77 for the year 2013 was issued by H.R.H the Prime Minister regarding the issuance of certified tables of salaries and allowances, including the decision to grant the social allowance to married women employees in equal terms as married men employees. On the other hand, the Ministry of Works began to adopt women-friendly standards in new projects under construction.  Regarding the budgets theme, SCW worked with the Ministry of Finance on issuing a number of resolutions to ensure the implementation of budgets responsive to women’s needs, in addition to inclusion of tables to monitor equal opportunities to measure the responsiveness of budgets in fields such as: workforce-training-projects-gender based services. Also gender based categorization of budget tables.  SCW also paid attention to awareness and capacity building, because training is a major pillar that supports adoption of policies in line with the national efforts supporting equal opportunities.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
- The National Model is a unique initiative in the sub-regional and regional levels. It is the first gender based model concerned with mainstreaming women’s needs in development, approved by the Head of State, and of which a Royal Decree was issued to establish a leadership level committee to follow up on its implementation - This model follows mechanisms and methods of constant evaluation and progress according to national realities based on knowledge management and measuring the impact as major parts of its implementation. - The units worked towards mainstreaming the needs of women in the programs and activities of the entities as part of the budgets without adding financial burdens. - The issuance of Civil Service Bureau’s resolution to obligate governmental entities to establish equal opportunity committees is considered as a unique procedure on the regional and international levels. It is also considered as one of the best practices that work towards the transformation of the work culture to accommodate equal opportunities. - The advantage of this initiative is that equal opportunity committees are monitored by the highest authority in the entity, and represents all the levels in a comprehensive manner.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
 First Phase: Planning and Policy Making (2001-2010): - Given the specialization of SCW regarding the provision of consultations on legislations and laws ensuring non-discrimination against women, SCW undertook a series of studies with this regard. - SCW also launched several initiatives and awards to encourage the institutions to take care of women employees according to certain standards. - Similarly, SCW worked towards the integration of the culture of mainstreaming women’s needs and equal opportunities through a series of awareness programs. - The National Conference on Mainstreaming Gender in Development under the theme “Fair Partnership between Men and Women in National Development… How?” in 2008 - Second National Conference on Mainstreaming Women’s Needs in Development… the Role of National Efforts”, of which the National Model on Mainstreaming the Needs of Women was issued (2010).  Second Phase: The First National Model (2011-2013): - A Royal decree was issued on establishing a National Commission to follow up on the implementation of the national model including all the relevant involved entities. The committee developed a comprehensive plan to implement the aspects of the model. - A coordination committee was formed including members of the legislative authority (Nuwab and Shura Councils) specialized in supporting the outcomes of the national commission, through employing the legislative instruments and tools. - Establishment of a directorate on mainstreaming the needs of women specialized in: - Integration of the concept of equal opportunities in national strategies and policies. - Transforming public budgets to become responsive to women’s needs in development. - Follow up on the governmental and private sector entities with regards to the establishment of equal opportunity units, - Evaluation of achievements with regards to objectives of mainstreaming women’s needs in development. - Submission of proposals and plans to ensure sustainability of mainstreaming women’s needs in development. - Working towards establishment of more equal opportunity committees, with the appropriate work plans. - Work in line with the Ministry of Finance to transform the public budget to become responsive to women’s needs.  Third Phase: The Second National Model (2014-2016) - The need to develop the National Plan emerged along with the transformation in national realities and the necessity of undertaking evaluation of the previous model. Therefore, the Third National Model was conducted in October 2013 under the theme “Mainstreaming Women’s Needs in Development… Review and Evaluation”. The new National Model will be implemented through the course of 3 years and consists of 4 main themes: - Policies: it is the expected role of the relevant entities in charge of the implementation of the national plan (legislative authority-executive authority-civil society- private sector) in developing policies and legislations to ensure equal opportunities. - Budgets: it is the expected role of entities on adopting budgets that are responsive to women’s needs. - Knowledge Management: It is the knowledge exchange while ensuring the implementation of equal opportunity applications. - Measuring the Impact: this reflects the transformation of the national model because it ensures sustainability through the constant follow up and evaluation processes. - SCW’s role relies on following up on the implementation of the national model through setting policies and evaluating the impact of the national plan. - The national model also puts emphasis on the role of regional and international organizations. The partnerships with these organizations are set to be invested to transform SCW into a house of expertise in the field.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
- SCW relied on the method of comprehensive method to set the national plan. The model came to reflect the partnership with all the sectors, in line with the national efforts to meet the obligations of Bahrain towards MDGs, along with the international conventions ratified by the Kingdom. - The roles in the model were defined according to the responsibilities and specialization of each entity. Therefore policies theme was given to the legislative authority which owns the legislative tools. 3 main partners were also defined in the theme designated to executive authority; Civil Service Bureau, Ministry of Social Development (Civil Society) and Ministry of Finance (Responsive Budgets). Regarding knowledge management, the following partners were defined: University of Bahrain-Bahrain Institute for Public Administration-Bahrain Institute for Banking and Finance- Supreme Council for Vocational Training. SCW on the other hand, monitors the implementation of this model and sets mechanisms of evaluation and measuring the impact. - Also, SCW works in line with equal opportunity committees, to follow up on the implementation of the model. - Given that the civil society plays a major role in implementing the national model, SCW cooperates with the Bahraini Women Union and the Societies enrolled in the Cooperation Committee between SCW and Women’s Societies and Committees, to ensure the implementation of the national model.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
- The structure of SCW was developed to become more specialized in women’s issues. A new directorate was established and is concerned with the mainstreaming of women’s needs. - The structure of the directorate was set in line with the national model and the equal opportunity units. The directorate consists of 3 departments: training and awareness, planning and development and awards and initiatives. - SCW works in line with the Ministry of Finance on setting budgets for equal opportunities, in cooperation with the Civil Service Bureau and the Ministry of Finance to integrate the required data in the Oracle program for these entities, which is used to monitor the data of workforce and expenses. - SCW collaborated with UNDP in implementing the knowledge management and awareness objectives. A number of training programs were conducted by several Arab specialists in the field. - SCW worked towards the integration of the national model for mainstreaming women’s needs in the national development plan.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
- Increase in the amount of awareness by the pioneering entities that initiated the equal opportunity units. The impact of the units on the employees represented more than 50%. - National capacity building in planning, conducting and evaluation of mainstreaming women’s needs. A number of training programs were conducted to train members of the Bahraini Women Union and Cooperation Committee members, which resulted in the presence of national expertise in the field. - Integration of equal opportunity section in the public budget tables.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
- The development of the National Plan which represents a comprehensive system that defines roles and responsibilities all the relevant parties, along with common points and areas of cooperation between them. - SCW works in line with equal opportunity units to set operational plans for each unit. - Each entity is obliged to provide periodic progress reports, through which evaluation process is undertaken. An average of 67% of achievements was accomplished by most entities. - During the Third National Conference 2013, national efforts were evaluated in the field of mainstreaming women’s needs and equal opportunities using a comprehensive system of evaluation. - The evaluation process relied upon the awareness achieved and the areas of potential improvement, along with other means such as surveys, awareness indicators and focus groups. - International experts were involved to evaluate the experience in an independent manner. - A mechanism to measure the progress was defined to undertake periodic meetings for equal opportunity committees and the national commission. - The constant evaluation of the equal opportunity units in 4 areas (employment, participation in training and education programs, participation in awareness and knowledge programs, reflection of equal opportunities in governmental strategies). - Achievement progress system was defined including a database to measure the indicators of equal opportunities - Launching of a national award “The Award of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al-Khalifa for the Empowerment of Bahraini Women” which aims at encouraging governmental and private sector entities to adopt practices that support equal opportunities between the employees and mainstreaming the needs of women.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
- One of the most prominent challenges facing the initiative at the early stages was the lack of figures representing women’s shares. This was achieved later in cooperation between SCW and the Ministry of Finance. - The varying awareness of the importance of equal opportunities and the importance of mainstreaming the needs of women. This was addressed through awareness programs of the National Plan for the Advancement of Bahraini Women and the National Development Plan, along with a number of training programs conducted for the members of equal opportunity units. - The varying levels of response of the governmental entities to establish equal opportunity units at the early stages of the project, despite the support provided to SCW to raise the awareness with regards to the national model to mainstream the needs of women. To address this, the Civil Service Bureau issued resolution N. 4 obligating all governmental entities to establish equal opportunity committees.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
- The main advantage of designing and implementing the national model for mainstreaming women’s needs in development is finding a unified national mechanism to ensure equal opportunities at the national level. - The national model came to mainstream women’s needs in the course of development. Therefore, the national model was integrated in the National Plan for the Advancement of Bahraini Women. Thus, it became a national priority at the planning level as well as in setting the national public budget. - The legislative authority is taking an increasing part in supporting equal opportunities and mainstreaming women’s needs, through issues such as housing services for women, social security and family services. This resulted in the issuance of national laws such as law N.36 for the year 2012, adding the paternal leave and increasing the days of maternal leave for women employees in the private sector. - The equal opportunity committees were able to accomplish some achievements supporting the initiative. For instance, the Ministry of Social Development was one of the first ministries to add the component of equal opportunities in the ministry’s strategy for the years 2011-2016, along with other strategies such as the national plan for childhood 2012-2013 and the national plan for the elderly 2012-2013 and the national plan for the disabled 2012-2013. Other examples include parties such as the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Works. - In addition to that, the positive results were reflected in the status of Bahrain in international reports. For instance, the General Secretariat of SCW participated in a survey conducted by OECD-MENA, which resulted in Bahrain being ranked second after Tunisia in terms of the percentage of women leaders in public sector. Also, according to the report, the percentage of women working in the public sector in high leadership positions reached 37% passing the average of the MENA region which was 29.1%. On the other hand, Bahrain was ranked 1st with regards to women’s participation in the public sector in the middle management positions with 59%. The laws and legislations of the Kingdom were highlighted as factors of these results.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
- The national model of mainstreaming women’s needs did not result in any financial burden to the participating parties, which makes it easier to be transferred and implemented in other countries in the region, especially taking into consideration the cultural similarities in these countries. - The Kingdom of Bahrain was able to modify the public budgets to include gender based categorization of expenses designated to workforce and projects and services. This gives the opportunity to measure women’s participation in the national economy, which will certainly result in the representation of the importance of the project and its sustainability. - The integration of the national plan and the equal opportunity committees in the national development plan would result in the sustainability of the implementation and its adoption by relevant national entities. - The obligation of the initiative resulted from its approval by high leadership level, would result in the insurance of the efficiency and sustainability of the national plan. - The impact of equal opportunities was integrated as part of the National Plan for the Advancement of Bahraini Women, approved by His Majesty the King, and would be implemented in the course of 10 years, which would assure sustainability of implementation. - Additionally, the issuance of a Royal decree on the establishment of a National Commission to implement the national plan for mainstreaming women’s needs in the governmental work-plan is a major part that would ensure the sustainability of the project, as it is in charge of: - Following up on the processes of integrating the National Plan for the Advancement of Bahraini Women in the governmental work-plan and the national efforts for the implementation of the plan through the national plan. - Following up on the efforts of all the partnering parties with regards to responsive budgets. - Following up on the efforts of all the partnering parties with regards to mainstreaming women’s needs in legislations and laws. - Following up on the national efforts to build the capacities and manage the knowledge in the field. - Following up on the operational plan for mainstreaming women’s needs in development through progress reports and issuing recommendations and comments to implement the plan. - Setting recommendations to ensure the sustainability of mainstreaming women’s needs in the programs and plans to ensure the implementation of the national plan for the advancement of Bahraini women.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
- The values of national responsibility and partnership upon which the national model is based. The national plan was SCW’s responsibility alone, which resulted in lack of collaboration and burden on SCW. However, the improvement of the model took into consideration the importance of partnership and defining the role of each responsible party to create some kind of harmony among all partners, with the role of SCW defined in monitoring the implementation. This is supposed to enhance the mechanisms of sustainability and competitiveness. - The decision to make the establishment of equal opportunity committees obligatory to address the lack of cooperation was complimented with appointing high level representatives (level of undersecretary or assistant undersecretary) in the committees to ensure the effective role. - Setting mechanisms to exchange and manage knowledge to raise the awareness on the concept of mainstreaming women’s needs and equal opportunities, in addition to promoting the model at the local, regional and international levels. - The transformation of the ownership of the mainstreaming project to the equal opportunity committees, by giving each committee the chance to design its own plans in line with the processes defined by SCW. - Training and capacity building at early stages of the project was disorganized. The improvement of the project consisted of a clear plan to invest in the trainers experience to activate the knowledge management aspect in the national plan, thus forming national plans in the field.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Supreme Council for Women
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Hala Mohamed Al-Ansari
Title:   Secretary General  
Telephone/ Fax:   Tel: +97417417223 / Fax: +97317415311
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Build 1003 Road 2825
Postal Code:   Block 928
City:   Western Riffa
State/Province:   Riffa

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