Manama: For Bahraini women, the date 06-06-06 has outstanding perks: Mona Al Kawari was appointed the first female judge in the kingdom and in the Arabian Gulf on that day and Shaikha Haya Bint Rashid Al Khalifa was confirmed as the first Arab and Muslim woman to chair the United Nations General Assembly.

"Historic Day for Bahraini Women", said Al Ayam newspaper as a banner headline, while Akhbar Al Khaleej opted for a "Twin Victory for Bahraini Women".

According to Al Ayam's Editor-in-Chief Eisa Al Shaygi, the excitement is understandable.

"The appointment of the first woman judge looms larger than a date on the calendar for women and their supporters.

"It also marks the active presence of women in the judiciary branch after outstanding contributions in the legislative branch with six women sitting in the Shura Council and the executive branch with two women as ministers," Al Shaygi yesterday told Gulf News.

Columnist and women's rights activist Esmat Al Mousawi said that "if nothing else, Tuesday 06/06/06 will be an easy date to remember with pride and anticipation".

"I am not usually superstitious, but while many people fear the 666 date, it will always be recalled as a great date for Bahraini and Gulf women and we hope that other countries will follow in this much-needed move towards paying homage to women's intelligence and aptitude," she said. In New York, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan received Shaikha Haya and discussed with her the next General Assembly.

UN officials described Shaikha Haya, who will succeed Sweden's foreign minister Jan Eliasson, as "a champion of women's rights in Islamic courts and one of the first two Bahraini women to practice law in her country."

Manama-based UN Information Centre for the Gulf countries head Najeeb Friji said in press remarks that Bahrain's presidency of the 61st session of the UN General Assembly would mark the first time that an Arab woman fhas chaired it