Bahrain will hold parliamentary and municipal elections on November 25th. Because eighteen women are running in the elections and one is unopposed, the vote will result in the Gulf region's first female parliamentarian. In October 2002, Bahrain held its first parliamentary election in decades. There was strong participation by female voters in that election, but none of the female candidates won a seat.
U.S. Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes says that Bahrain's upcoming parliamentary elections will be a milestone. Ms. Hughes recently visited Bahrain and met with women candidates. During a news conference in the capital, Manama, she said the country's elections are becoming "more inclusive." Speaking about the women candidates she met, she said: "They are articulate. They are intelligent. They are very impressive. . . .I feel very good about the future of Bahrain."
Bahrain is a "healthy model for the region," said Under Secretary of State Hughes. "Statistics show that, as you educate and empower women, almost every other aspect of a society improves - from its economic prosperity to its health to its general welfare." Ms. Hughes also said that the United States favors the presence of international observers during Bahrain's elections. "We think it's important not only that [elections] be free and fair, but that the public is satisfied that they are free and fair," she said.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says both men and women in the Middle East deserve democracy. "There are those who say that democracy is for men alone," she says. "In fact, the opposite is true: Half a democracy is not a democracy. As one Muslim woman leader has said, 'society is like a bird. It has two wings. And a bird cannot fly if one wing is broken.'"
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.