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Society pushes for early retirement scheme for women in Bahrain

Al Asala insists motion will help protect families, children

Gulf News

Manama: An Islamist society has made a fresh move to have the parliament approve the retirement of women employees at the age of 50.

Al Asala, the expression of Salafism in Bahrain, had tabled the motion twice since the revival of the parliament after a 30-year constitutional hiatus, but could not get the support of the upper chamber or the endorsement of the retirement fund.

“We are now presenting a revised plan that takes into consideration the ideas discussed with the woman and child committee at the Council of Representatives,” MP Abdul Halim Murad said. “We hope that the draft will be discussed by the council soon so that it can be referred to the Shura Council, the upper chamber of the parliament,” he said.

Under the latest proposal submitted by MPs Adel Al Mouawda, Abdul Halim Murad, Ali Zayed, Adnan Al Maliki and Khalid Al Malood, public sector women employees can retire at the age of 50, but will benefit from the advantages extended to employees who retire at 55, including a retirement pension to be calculated on the basis of up to 35 years of service.

Al Asala said that it had been keen on helping working women as mothers, wives and social partners.

The society first promoted its early retirement scheme during the 2002 – 2006 legislative term, but did not garner enough support.

It presented it in February 2007 and the lower chamber approved it in April 2008. However, it was turned down by the upper chamber where it was seen as “as “unconstitutional and discriminatory” for making differences between state employees on the basis of gender and for its onerous financial consequences.

Shura Council member Bahiya Al Jishi said that “the problem is that those behind the law think that women are fragile and could break easily”.

“Basically, this law is being launched to remove females from the labour market and pave the way for more men,” she said. Al Asala denied the charges.

In its new proposal, the society insisted that its scheme was popular among women.

“The plan was presented following calls by women for early retirement,” the society said as it explained the reasons for the move. “It is not biased in any way and is in fact based on the constitution that stipulates that the state guarantees the balance between women’s duties towards their families and those towards society.”

According to Al Asala, the proposal is voluntary and does not force women into an early retirement.

“Women are given the choice of continuing their work or taking an early retirement and no one can force them to make either choice,” the society said. “The choice will help married women take better care of their families and children after years of pressure to balance between the work place and the home. Their choice will help protect Bahraini families and safeguard children from delinquency and loss, and all this is in the interest of society as a whole.”