Next Elections: Women Doomed to Failure
Unless Supported by Political Societies

A research study about women’s experience in the 2006 elections and the probable outcome of the 2010 elections was conducted by the Supreme Council for Women with the co-operation of UNDP. The study recommends an increase in the financial support for societies, committees and national councils concerned with women-related issues. The Government’s financial support to political societies should be linked to the amount of support given to female candidates. The study also recommended (an increase in the proportion of female representation in the Shura Council, taking into account the selection of men and women who are faithful supporters of empowering women in general, and political empowerment in particular, if possible, and to take interim measures to support women and increase their chances of success in the elections, according to CEDAW).

The study polled 500 voters about the nomination of women in elections. The results of the survey showed that 74.1% supported women nominating themselves, 24.1% objected to this idea. It also revealed that 62% of pollsters would not vote for a woman and only 30.7% said that they would.

This sample reveals that the chances of women succeeding the next election are very slim. This is the reason why some female activists demand the adoption of the quota system. Others however, believe that the number of women appointed in the Shura Council should be increased. The Supreme Council for Women recommends that the number of appointed women in the Shura Council should be increased. It also recommends the application of pressure on political societies to nominate women and change this patriarchal culture.

The study observed that women were not nominated by the main political societies during the 2006 elections which lowered their chances of winning. There are unofficial promises from the Al Wifaq Society that two women will be on their candidates list, and if this happens, it is most likely that they will win.

According to the same study, most female candidates in the previous parliamentary elections were not associated with any political society. There were 21 female nominees in the previous elections, 19 of which ran independently (90.5%), while only two ran as part of political societies (9.5%). With regards to the candidates’ level of education, the study revealed that ‘all had received a suitable amount of education. The percentage of female candidates with post graduates degrees was 47.6%, and those with university degrees was 28.4% and only 23.8% were at GCSE level’

The study pointed to a number of obstacles facing female candidates, including ‘their inability to build alliances, the lack of financial support, the lack of an affordable specialized administrative team and technical expertise’. Other obstacles include the tension in the political atmosphere and the media and newspapers’ lack of cooperation as they demanded a great amount of money for covering women’s elections activities.

The study also shows that 28.8% of the candidates felt that the reason for their failure in the elections was ‘due to the attitude of religious leaders who have spiritual and social influence.’ These leaders believe that the nomination of women for the legislative council is not permissible. The study also showed that 19% of female candidates attribute their failure to the influence of political societies and other problems associated with elections. On the other hand, 9.6% believe that mismanagement of the campaign was the problem, and 4.8% thought that weak funding was behind their failure.

In order to help women in the next elections, the study recommends that the Government put forward regulations that would organize the campaign and would guarantee equal opportunities and limit the financial obstacles facing women in the elections. The study also recommends the introduction of a media policy based on principles that are accepted by all media and information institutions. This is in order to unify the coverage of the elections, limit the candidates’ financial influence in the media and reinforce its independence. The media should also contribute in changing the perception of female candidates in society.