Bahrain’s first woman councillor is also Gulf’s first

Manama, November 01: The first woman to be elected to a municipal council in Bahrain, Fatima Salman is conscious of her historical feat, and as the maiden female councillor in the entire Gulf region she believes women from her country deserve such an achievement.

An independent candidate, Fatima won from Muharraq, Bahrain’s second largest city.

She topped the list of nine candidates in the first round on October 23, scoring 28.8 per cent Her nearest rival, Mohammad Al Sinan, received 20.6 per cent of the votes.

The woman candidate again beat him on October 30 in the run-off between the two top contenders, securing 1,492 votes — 52.5 per cent of the ballot.

“I had a strong feeling that I would win and I am grateful to all those who have supported me,”she told the media after being declared winner.

“I am the first Gulf woman to be elected to a municipal council and Bahraini women do deserve this distinction,”she said.

Fatima said that she would savour her victory for a few days before committing herself fully to her new job.

Bahrain has five municipal councils, one in each governorate.

Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa congratulated Fatima on making history.

“Your win reflects the advances Bahrain has achieved towards further development and prosperity,”he told Fatima in a personal cable of congratulations.

“It is an outstanding result of our reforms that call upon every Bahraini man and woman to contribute actively to the building of our beloved Bahrain,”King Hamad said.

Few people had expected her to win, but Fatima said that she was not bothered by discouraging statements that said a male-dominated mindset might make it impossible for women to win.

She launched a significant campaign to garner support built on her past achievements as a community activist.

Eight women had figured among the 127 candidates contesting the first round, with only one of them securing a seat.