From Left: Jameela Al Sammak, Rua Al Hayki and Fatima Al Asfoor Image Credit: Supplied

Manama: The three women who were elected to the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament in Bahrain’s parliamentary elections last week have vowed to boost democracy practices and reforms in the country.

“Bahrain has in fact won in the elections, not I,” Rua Al Hayki said. “The people have elected us and we have to rise to their expectations and anticipations. We need to work together and consolidate democracy and reforms. The focus will of course be on better living conditions, greater employment opportunities and the adoption of a knowledge economy,” Rua, a young businesswoman, said.

Jameela Al Sammak, a health management consultant, said that she would press for greater powers for the lawmakers to enable them to boost living standards for all people.

“I will also push for more security and safety and for restoring national cohesion,” she said.

Bahrainis are still trying to come to terms with the social divisions that hit their society in the wake of the dramatic events of February and March 2011 and their consequences.

For Fatima Al Asfoor, a lawyer, her election to the Council of Representatives is a huge responsibility in the service of her country. However, she said that she would announce her priorities later.

The three winners are from the Northern Governorate. None of the other three governorates will be represented by women in the Council of Representatives.

Hopes were high for more women to win seats in the current legislative term after 23 women ran as candidates in the parliamentary elections.

Fatima won in the first round on November 22, while Rua and Jameela were elected on November 29 in the second round when the top two contenders in the constituencies where no one secured more than 50 per cent of the votes moved to the run-off.

Bahrain had elections in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. No woman won in 2002 and Lateefa Al Gaood made history in 2006 when she became the first woman in the Gulf to win a parliamentary seat.

In 2010, Lateefa was re-elected and she was followed one year later by three other women who won seats in the by-elections held to replace 18 MPs from Al Wefaq Society who opted out of the parliament.

Three women also won in the municipal elections held concurrently with the parliamentary polls.

In 2010, only one woman succeeded in becoming a municipal councillor.