Oman: - Women in the Majlis Al Shura — A Step Forward?
Approximately 50 per cent of the nation’s population is female. Then why after six sessions of Majlis elections, we still have only two females representing Omani women in the Majlis?
Omani women have made rapid progress in the field of education in the recent past, and many of them are highly educated. Education, definitely, is a requirement for women to actively participate in nation-building.
Oman is the only government in the Gulf, which appointed four women in ministerial positions — Dr Rawiyah bint Saud bin Ahmed Al Busaidiyah, minister of higher education; Dr Rajiha bint Abdul Amir bin Ali, minister of tourism; Dr Sharifa bint Khalfan bin Nassir Al Yahyaeiyah, minister of social development; and Sheikha Aisha bint Khalfan bin Jumail Al Siyabiah, president, Public Authority for Craft Industries. This indicates that Omani women have enough potential to be an effective component of modern Oman.
There are several issues who discourage women from participating in Majlis Al Shura. Firstly, the cultural and traditional mindset of the Omani community holds back women from moving forward. Recent changes in perspective, however, have brought many changes in other aspects in Omani life, but political participation of women is not very much welcome.
Secondly, Omanis are experiencing new concepts through voting and going to the polls. Thus, the time is ripe to identify and absorb the basics of the culture of elections. Many educated people look at Majlis as an establishment that would serve the purpose of establishing modern democracy in Oman.
Thirdly, Omani women gained good education through the past 36 years, and this needs to be seen as a source of strength. However, it has not been used to empower female position in the Majlis Al Shura. To raise awareness on the importance of this issue among citizens, the government has made several attempts. The objective, indeed, is to enhance women’s participation in Majlis Al Shura, Omani media and women’s associations.
The result, however, is very insignificant. Raising awareness among women on the rules and regulations of Majlis Al Shura is the key component that will help women move forward in Al Shura elections and participate actively in the nation-building process.
On the other hand, men should encourage women to come forward. The need of the hour is to ensure the best opportunities for women to accomplish success.
By: Aziza Al Habsi
May 30, 2007