Women’s Programs and Initiatives

The Kingdom takes great responsibility in providing equal rights to women and ensuring they are represented in various fields.

Bahraini women are key players in the Kingdom of Bahrain’s development process whose contributions span the full spectrum of public life, including politics, social development, business, and more. However, despite these achievements, there is still room to create a more inclusive environment that fosters greater balance between genders.

The Supreme Council for Women (SCW) is committed to addressing women’s needs in order to unlock their full potential and contribute to the society on a broader spectrum. As part of a national initiative aimed at promoting gender equality and inclusion of women, the government and the SCW have undertaken a range of initiatives to empower Bahraini women, turning them into role models within the Arab World.

Supreme Council for Women (SCW)

The Supreme Council for Women was established on 22 August 2001 through Amiri Decree No. 44 (Arabic only) which was amended by the Amiri Decrees No. 55 in 2001 (Arabic only) and No. 2 in 2002 (Arabic only), and Royal Decree No. 36 in 2004. It is considered a main reference point for all official organizations related to women’s affairs and has jurisdiction to express its opinion and address all matters impacting the position of women in society.

The Council is chaired by Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa and comprises at least 16 members at any given time who are female public figures considered to be leaders in women's affairs and related activities.

The SCW empowers Bahraini women and guarantees their inclusion in development programs, while also ensuring they maintain cohesive family bonds and lives. Underpinned by equal opportunity principles, it helps foster competitiveness among Bahraini women and secures their lifelong learning. The Council promotes legislation and policies aimed at providing diverse opportunities for Bahraini women to enhance the quality of their lives. As an expert-led organization specialized in supporting women’s affairs in line with global standards, it partners with relevant institutions to elevate the status of women.

Bahraini Women’s Day

Launched by HRH Princess Sabeeka in 2008, the first Bahraini Women’s Day was held under the theme, “She read… She learned… She contributed”, which, in turn, was coined to celebrate 80 years since the start of formal education for women in the Kingdom. Marked on 1 December every year, the occasion celebrates Bahraini women and their contributions to shaping the identity of a modern, forward-thinking society that seeks to preserve the principles of equality in the national development process.

The theme aptly expresses the crucial role women play in building the Bahrain of today and speaks to the tangible benefits of their contributions as partners in national development. It also tells the story of how Bahraini women’s roles have evolved, beginning with the first generation of female pioneers who read and learned, and how the women of today continue to help build their society with the same enthusiasm and determination.

It is an important national event that celebrates the achievements of Bahraini women, and has had several themes over the years, is an important national event that celebrates the achievements of Bahraini women, has had several themes over the years.

The National Plan for the Advancement of Bahraini Women

The National Plan for the Advancement of Bahraini Women (Arabic only) includes five pillars that seek to ensure women’s family stability and cohesion, and enable them to contribute to development, forming an equal partnership in building a sustainable competitive community. 

Women receive attention from the government of Bahrain in all fields, including housing, where women have the right to apply for housing services as the heads of households. This is in addition to taking significant steps to develop an action plan to protect women from violence and discrimination, and to encourage their economic empowerment. The Kingdom of Bahrain has issued legislation in support of women's rights, including Family Law No. (19) of 2017 (PDF, 344KB, 30 pages), which regulates family provisions (inheritance) for all without discrimination. In 2018, family courts specialized in resolving family disputes were established to achieve the 5th UN Sustainable Development Goal (gender equality)

Women in Education

According to the Supreme Council for Women statistics, women form a significant portion of the education sector.

  • Between 2011 and 2020, the number of female teachers in elementary education institutions averaged 75%.
  • Statistics also showed a rise in the percentage of females completing educational levels, in 2020 females represented:
    • 52% of students in elementary schools
    • 50% in intermediate schools
    • 60% in secondary schools.
    • 64% graduates of higher education institutions

Women in Economic Development

Bahraini women formed an average of 32% of the total workforce from 2010- 2019. A total of 18% of public sector employees during these years were Bahraini women, compared to 17% of Bahraini men. 

In the same years, Bahraini women made up 54% of the total in governmental entities and 35% in the private sector. 

Bahraini women made notable contributions to business, with an average of 43% of all active individuals’ Commercial Registers (CRs) between 2010 and 2018 being owned by following Bahraini women: 

  • Mona Almoayyed
  • Naglaa Shirawi
  • Nargis Jamal

A testament to their ambition and far-reaching capabilities, Bahraini women received regional recognition when the Forbes Middle East 2021 ‘The Middle East’s 100 Power Businesswomen’ included Three Bahraini women among their ranks.

For more details on gender balance indicators, please download the Gender Balance Indicators app, available for iOS 

Women in Sports

Bahraini women enjoy equal access to professional sports opportunities as their male counterparts, with women’s sports receiving growing attention in the Kingdom. The Supreme Council for Women (SCW) supports the participation of women in all types of sports and encourages them to show up in force at all local, regional and international games and competitions, as a patriotic act that enhances the Kingdom’s profile. Practicing sports regularly can also have a positive impact on the quality of women’s lives and their physical and mental wellbeing. 

The SCW, in cooperation with the University of Bahrain (UoB), conducted a study on women’s sports in the Kingdom (PDF, 1.3MB, 73 pages, Arabic only), which highlighted the challenges they face and future aspirations

Women Empowerment & Influence in Decision Making

Women in Bahrain play a progressive role in many key and high end positions.

In 2020, women in the Legislative Authority made up 19% of the participations:

  • 15% of them were elected within the parliament
  • 23% were appointed within the Shura Council
  • 23% in the Municipal council.

Moreover, female candidates who are running for parliamentary elections make up 14% of the candidates, and female candidates running for the municipal elections make up 6% of the candidates.

As for the judicial field, the percentage of female judges is marked at 12% while males comprise 98% within the field.

Women also occupy a number of positions within the Executive Authority and leadership positions:

  • Female ministers or the equivalent make up 4%
  • Female undersecretaries and deputy ministers mark at 8%
  • Female assistant undersecretaries or assistant deputy ministers mark 35% of these positions.


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Content Last Updated: 12 Sep, 2023

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