Women’s Rights in Bahrain
Bahrain, a small Middle-Eastern country off the coast of the Arab Peninsula, consists of Bahrain Island and 30 smaller islands. Due to its coastal location, Bahrain has greater access to ocean travel and, in consequence, a wider range of influences than its Arab-Islamic neighbors. These influences have made Bahrain a more ethnically and religiously diverse nation, and, while still conservative, more liberal and accepting in its interpretation of Islam. However, women’s rights in Bahrain have lacked in many ways.

The openness regarding interpretations of Islam has brought positive change for female rights and Bahraini women are the most liberally educated in the MENA (Middle-Eastern North-African) region. However, Bahraini law is a complicated combination of royal decrees, civil and criminal codes and Sharia law (religious Islamic law that comes from the Quran and the Hadith). As a result, while the secular part of Bahraini law advances women, the religious part holds them back. Here is a breakdown of these opposing legislative forces in the improvement of women’s rights in Bahrain.

The Background

Since he took the throne in 1999, the political and economic reforms of hereditary leader Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa have sparked the improvement of women’s rights in Bahrain. Bahrain’s 2002 constitution set women equal to men, guaranteeing gender equality in, “political, social and economic spheres, without breaching the provisions of Islamic law.” While this seems hopeful, the constitution also stated that “the family is the cornerstone of society, the strength which lies in religion, ethics and patriotism,” meaning the nation still believes in a traditional and conservative role for women.

Even more, no provisions exist in the constitution explicitly banning discrimination on the grounds of gender in the workplace or any other sphere of society. While popular protests have demanded a fully elected legislature in 2005 and increased democratic representation, an end to discrimination against Sunnis and the creation of an anti-corruption agency in 2011, no revisions have occurred to the 2002 constitution and the constitution has not given additional rights to Bahraini women.

CEDAW

Bahrain joined the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2002. CEDAW is an international treaty from the United Nations that defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets out an agenda to eliminate it. Bahrain made great strides for women by joining CEDAW, providing its female citizens with adequate healthcare, education and employment opportunities. However, the nation joined the treaty with reservations about CEDAW’s articles that contradicted the Sharia, which included the prohibition of discrimination within governmental policies, the right for a woman to pass citizenship to her husband and children, freedom of movement regarding residency and equality in marriage and family life.

Islamic law mandates that men receive more inheritance than women and that children take citizenship from their fathers. Moreover, it states that it is unacceptable for women to live outside their married houses. Thus, while CEDAW improved women’s rights in Bahrain, the country’s commitment to Sharia law prevents Bahrain from truly accepting these social reforms.

Political Rights

In Bahrain, women have the right to vote and stand in local and national elections. Bahrain was the first nation to grant universal female suffrage in 2002 and, by the 2006 elections, 16 female candidates ran for the Council of Representatives and women made up 50.2% of the vote. While women have won elections, they have an exceedingly difficult time getting elected and even running, making women underrepresented in decision-making positions.

Only 39 female candidates ran in the 2018 parliamentary elections in comparison to 330 men. However, since adopting its new constitution, the Bahraini government has made considerable efforts to elect more women through its Supreme Council of Women, a semi-governmental body that the king’s wife runs. The Supreme Council of Women has had a powerful influence and, in 2018, Bahraini citizens elected six women to Bahrain’s lower house of Parliament, doubling their previous number and setting the record as an all-time high of elected female representatives in the nation.

Education

In 2007, Bahraini women made up 72% of the students at Arabian Gulf University and 67% of the University of Bahrain, exceeding the percentage of men at these universities. However, despite dominating the student population, Bahraini women frequently do not work in the workforce. Due to the strong traditional values of Islam, many subjects are unavailable to female students. Technical subjects are only available to male students, and textile classes are limited to females. While women receive the opportunity for education, they must study subjects that have low demand in the workforce, increasing their likelihood of unemployment.

Economic Rights

True economic equality is hard to achieve in Arab nations and the majority of the Bahraini workforce is male. Women only make up around one-fifth of the working population. However, the Bahraini government encourages women to work, creating incentives for employers to hire Bahraini women. For example, the government implemented a rule stating that hiring a Bahraini woman counts as hiring two citizens, helping companies increase their percentage of indigenous employment so they can employ more foreign workers (who tend to work for cheaper). Despite this government encouragement, Bahraini women face hard social pressures to stay at home and take care of their family, as is customary in Islamic tradition.

Social Rights

In May 2009, the government passed its first personal status law, a huge step for women’s rights in Bahrain. The new law granted women the right to consent to marriage and have conditions in a marriage contract. It also allowed women to take a separate residence if their husband marries a new wife.

Many laws exist that are discriminatory towards women. In Islamic court, a woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s (however in civil court, testimonies are equal). In addition, no laws exist to protect women from gender-based violence. If a man assaults a female relative, he may face a few days in jail, but then only has to sign a pledge and pay a fee. Even more, spousal rape is legal and a rapist may avoid punishment if he agrees to marry his victim. These laws have deep roots in Islamic law, which grants men and women unequal rights in social and family life.

NGOs

In conjunction with the Supreme Council of Women, many NGOs have been fighting and advocating for women’s rights in Bahrain. Specifically, the Bahrain Women’s Union has had an especially strong impact on the advancement of women’s rights. While 456 NGOs exist in Bahrain, only 19 focus on women’s rights, and 12 of those 19 are a part of the Bahrain Women’s Union. The group aims for women to be more active politically and fights all forms of gender discrimination in Bahrain. After its creation in 2006, the Bahraini Women’s Union worked toward ratifying CEDAW and passing the personal status law. Other influential NGOs in Bahrain include the Awal’s Women’s Society, which provides free legal advice to abused women and the Batelco Anti-Domestic Violence Center, which rehabilitates domestically abused women.

The state of women’s rights in Bahrain is complex and manifold. The nation’s complicated combination of religious and secular law stops many gender discrimination reforms from reaching their full potential. Many NGOs and international organizations are actively helping to advocate for and win rights for Bahraini women but this work does not exempt these women from the societal norms pressuring them into traditional roles in the household. While Bahrain still has a long way to go, its relatively liberal interpretation of Islamic law and openness to equality leaves hope for the continued advancement of women’s rights.

– Georgia Bynum
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in BahrainSmall in size, but rich in natural resources, Bahrain has a small population of 1.5 million residents and a GDP of $37.75 billion. It is one of the richest countries in the world, much like other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. It is the fifth richest Arab country and the 23rd richest country in the world. This is mostly due to its high-income economy that relies on oil, natural gas and tourism. As a result, many overlook the problem of homelessness in Bahrain.

Housing Assistance

In fact, there is not much information about homelessness in Bahrain. This is because the government has established an agency called The Ministry of Housing. Its main responsibility is to provide adequate social housing for those in the country who cannot afford it. The constitution specifies the obligation of the government to provide housing for its citizens. Three-fifths of Bahrain’s citizens have benefited from government housing assistance, which is why homelessness in Bahrain is not a large social phenomenon.

Housing Insecurity

Despite the low rates of homelessness in Bahrain, there is a problem of housing insecurity for many of Bahrain’s residents. Migrant laborers who work in low paying jobs do not receive the same rights citizens do, especially when it comes to housing. Their housing arrangement is through the “Kafala” system, a form of modern-day slavery, in which an employer dictates where the workers live. Housing is generally paid for by renting shared apartments to save money. Without receiving housing benefits and having an average wage of BHD 196, which the government defines as “low pay”, migrant works are left in a very vulnerable position. When oil prices fell in 2019 and an economic downturn occurred, many of these laborers were not receiving their wages. On top of that, the rising cost of living resulted in an increased rate of suicide among the migrants.

Signs of Progress

The government of Bahrain is currently in the second phase of implementing a Wage Protection System bill, which passed in 2019. The bill would require companies to pay their employees using methods authorized by the Central Bank of Bahrain. It would also require them to inform the Labour Market Regulatory Authority of the payments. Additionally, it imposes requirements employers must adhere to when seeking migrant labor. These requirements include a clean record absent of failure to pay workers’ wages. This is a step in the right direction, as it will ensure that migrant workers will at least receive the payments they need for rent, combating housing insecurity.

Such measures come in part as a result of advocacy by groups that fight for the rights of laborers. One example is an organization known as Migrant-Rights.org. Migrant-Rights.org is an advocacy group based in GCC that documents migrant worker abuse and advocates on their behalf. The work of these groups helps reduce housing insecurity among migrant workers, further improving the issue of homelessness in Bahrain.

Mustafa Ali
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Bahrain
The Kingdom of Bahrain is the island nation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. This former British protectorate achieved its independence in 1971. Since the discovery of oil in the mid-20th century, Bahrain’s petroleum industry has been the backbone of the country’s economy and has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world. With its newfound wealth, the Bahraini government invested in public welfare, infrastructure and public sectors. This led to a steady increase in life expectancy in Bahrain.

9 Facts about Life Expectancy in Bahrain

  1. The life expectancy in Bahrain stood at 79.4 years as of 2019. The average life expectancy for women in Bahrain is 81.8 years, compared to 77.1 years for men. Bahrain ranks 52nd in terms of average life expectancy when compared to the entire world. The U.N. estimates that Bahrain’s life expectancy will increase to 81.16 years by 2050.
  2. The biggest increase in life expectancy in Bahrain occurred during the 1960s. After the country’s discovery of oil in 1931, Bahrain reported strong economic growth in the subsequent decades which positively impacted life expectancy. However, since the 1970s the rate of increase in life expectancy in Bahrain has slowed. The life expectancy in Bahrain is on par with countries such as the U.K., the U.S. and Australia.
  3. Bahrain has both universal and private health care. For Bahraini nationals, comprehensive care is provided free of charge, which contributes to the overall excellent life expectancy in Bahrain. The central government mainly finances the health care system. Still, some citizens prefer to participate in private healthcare options in order to overcome the challenge of longer wait times in public facilities.
  4. Bahrain’s immunization program largely eliminated childhood infectious diseases in the kingdom. The introduction of the measles vaccine in 1974 was the saving grace at a time when measles was the leading cause of death among children. After the introduction of the measles vaccine, the Bahraini government conducted a successful nationwide vaccination campaign. By 1999, more than 90 percent of children in Bahrain received vaccines. In 2009, the measles outbreak included only 0.27 cases per 100,000 compared to 1985 when there were 250 cases per 100,000.
  5. As of 2019, the Bahraini government passed a new law that mandates health insurance coverage for all citizens, residents and visitors. Under the new law, expatriate domestic workers, such as housemaids, drivers, gardeners and nurses, will be covered for free.
  6. The leading cause of death in Bahrain is ischemic heart disease. Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, refers to a heart condition where the major blood vessels to the heart become damaged or diseased. Obesity and smoking are the leading cause of ischemic heart disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, as of 2016, 27 percent of Bahrain’s population smokes tobacco. WHO also reported that 29 percent of the adults in Bahrain were obese.
  7. The Bahraini government is set to finish the construction of a $32 million long-term health care center. Funded through the Saudi Fund for Development, this 100-bed facility aims to open in 2022. The facility will be equipped to treat patients who are afflicted with ailments that require long-term care.
  8. Bahrain’s suicide rate ranks 138th in the world. Bahrain is ranked relatively low on the suicide rate ranking out of the 183 countries ranked by the WHO. The data in 2016 shows that there were 5.9 people committing suicide for every 100,000 people in Bahrain. However, in 2019, the WHO also reported that Bahrain had the 5th highest rate of suicide among Arab Nations.
  9. In 2019, Bahrain is ranked as the most air-polluted country in the Middle East. Other countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan were among the top 10 countries on the list. Experts stated that emissions of oil refineries, power stations and fuel-powered transportation and burning of waste in open spaces are the major contributors to pollution in Bahrain. These pollutants in the air can cause a variety of respiratory complications.

Life expectancy in Bahrain is very much related to the country’s economy. Since the discovery of oil in the 1930s, the Bahraini government used their newfound wealth to bolster the country’s infrastructure and health care for its citizens. With the help of international funds such as the Saudi Fund for Development, Bahrain is further bolstering its health care system. However, the country’s declining oil industry and the pollution that they cause does give rise to concerns about the future of life expectancy in Bahrain

– YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Freshwater and Sanitation in Bahrain
Bahrain’s name comes from the Arabic al-bahrayn, which means two seas. Two kinds of water surround the country, sweet water and salty water. Meanwhile, Bahrain is located in the Arabian Gulf – one of the largest oil-producing regions of the world.

Despite the surrounding countries’ high oil supply levels, Bahrain has small stores of oil. Instead of oil drilling, the country imports crude oil from its surrounding countries. The country processes crude oil and exports the refined product.

Bahrain has gained increasing wealth from its refined oil exports. This wealth attracts migrants to come and settle in Bahrain as well as other Gulf Cooperation Council states including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. The level of migration resulted in a 48 percent migrant population and the growing population is increasing strains on the country’s freshwater and other sanitation resources.

Despite the struggle to keep pace with migration, Bahrain’s government says it is making strides toward improving, upgrading and expanding sanitation facilities for its growing population. Below are 10 facts about freshwater and sanitation in Bahrain.

10 Facts About Freshwater and Sanitation in Bahrain

  1. Improving Sanitation: Ninety-five percent of Bahrain’s populace connects to a central sewage network. This is because the country adopted sanitation facilities before many of the other countries in the region. Bahrain’s sewage system structure is old with sanitation facilities dating to the 1970s and making the facilities for wastewater treatment inadequate. To combat this inadequacy, Bahrain added new treatment plants and expanded existing ones. Bahrain plans to construct a deep gravity sewer project to cover large areas of the country. Gulf Construction online stated that the country is making progress with its sewage treatment plant in Muharraq and that it was in the commissioning phase as of 2014.
  2. Oil Pollution: Bahrain developed its oil industry without concern for its fertile land. This lack of concern resulted in the oil pollution of natural groundwater reservoirs. Pollution from this oil development increased during the Persian Gulf War, which resulted in damage to oil facilities in the Gulf Region.
  3. Freshwater: Bahrain contains the lowest endowments of freshwater resources in the world, which affects its freshwater availability. Bahrain’s average annual rainfall hovers around 80 mm and its evapotranspiration hovers around 1850 mm. There are no rivers, continuously flowing streams or lakes. The country obtains groundwater from the lateral underflow of the Dammam aquifer. Freshwater share among Bahrain’s populace is in decline. The share went from 525 m3 per year in 1970 to 100 m3 per year in 2001, placing the country’s freshwater share less than the 500 m3 per year capita water poverty line. These levels are likely to further decline and even halve due to the country’s continual population increase.
  4. Water Salination: Bahrain’s groundwater suffers from degradation in quantity and quality from over-extraction, seawater invasion, oil spills and other industrial discharges. The over-utilization of the Dammam aquifer by Bahrain’s agricultural and domestic sectors causes water salination. As a result, desalination provides at least 60 percent of Bahrain’s freshwater.
  5. Desalination: Desalination plants pose a threat to the environment. The seawater used contains high quantities of boron and bromide. The process used to desalinate removes calcium and other essential minerals. The salt leftover from desalination goes into the ocean increasing the salinity of the water. The increased salinity causes harm to the environment and is among the costliest ways to produce water because of the high amount of energy required. Therefore, higher water and energy costs can also pose a challenge to the people who need it.
  6. Basic and Improved Sanitation Availability: Ninety-nine percent of Bahrain’s population uses basic sanitation resources. Bahrain’s government claims 100 percent of its population is using improved and safe drinking water sources, 100 percent of the population benefit from improved sanitation services and 100 percent of the wastewater receives safe treatment. The CIA said Bahrain improved sanitation access for 99 percent of its population. Index Mundi claimed that the country’s freshwater access improved from 94 percent of the country having access in 1990 to 100 percent having access in 2015.
  7. Unequal Freshwater Access: The Bahraini people’s access to freshwater is unequal. The cleanliness of the water is dependent upon how close or far away the water sources are from the Alkalifa family, the ruling family of Bahrain. East Riffe, the location of the Alkalifa family palace, contains cleaner water than Sitra, Ma’ameer, Duraz and Bani Jamra. These are areas where the Baharna community, a community that has faced a long history of discrimination in the region, live. When the people of these areas drink the water there is a high chance of contracting long-term diseases and other health-related problems.
  8. Water Scarcity and The Green Climate Fund: Since Bahrain is located in an arid environment, estimates determine that water scarcity will increase as the temperature of the planet increases due to sea-level rise. Sea-level rise causes surrounding seawater to intermix with the ground freshwater, which decreases freshwater availability. Bahrain applied to the Green Climate Fund – a fund within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to assist developing countries to take steps to prevent climate change – to address the problems that climate change poses.
  9. Rising Population: Bahrain contains one of the highest population densities in the world and its population is increasing. Eighty-nine percent of Bahrain’s population lives in urban areas. The population level and the continual population increase created a demand for freshwater that exceeds the country’s natural resources.
  10. Waste Generation and Government Initiatives: Bahrain generates above 1.2 million tons of solid waste per year making the country one of the world’s leading per capita solid waste generators. Estimates determine that daily garbage production exceeds 4,500 tons. Waste accumulation increases at a rapid pace. The waste is likely to affect the quality of air, soil and groundwater in Bahrain. Bahrain’s government launched recycling initiatives, a waste-to-energy project and a public awareness campaign in response to combat waste accumulation.

While the rising population and aging sewage system strain the availability of resources, Bahrain’s government is making efforts to address a number of the 10 facts about freshwater and sanitation in Bahrain. Bahrain’s works ministry invited companies to bid for a contract to build new sewage treatment plants in the country in 2014. U.S. companies could also help build effective waste management facilities by bringing ideas on how to improve each of the 10 facts about freshwater and sanitation of Bahrain.

– Robert Forsyth
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Bahrain

Bahrain is an archipelago made up of 33 small islands located between Saudia Arabia and Qatar in the Persian Gulf. In 1971, Bahrain declared its independence from the United Kingdom and then in 2002, they established themselves as its own kingdom. Known for its petroleum exports, they were the first Arab country to discover it in 1932. These 10 facts show what living conditions are like in Bahrain.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Bahrain

  1. The International Labour Organisation states that Bahrain’s unemployment rate is at 7.5 percent based on its econometric models. The majority of its unemployment comes from both the female and male age group of 15-24 where it is 25.4 percent and 32.3 percent. The government has adopted policies such as the National Employment Scheme of 2006 focusing on broader labor reform by covering all workers to improve its living conditions in Bahrain.
  2. Shiites, a group of people in the Bahrain society who make up 75 percent of the Muslim population, claims that the government is discriminatory against them. They are apart of the poorest population of the Bahrain society. One of the reasons behind this group’s poverty was that when the oil boom occurred, the country employed these foreign Shiites because they were not formally educated and the ruling Sunni treats them with suspicion.
  3. The adult literacy rate has risen from 69.8 percent in 1981 to 95.7 percent in 2015, which shows an annual growth rate of 8.49 percent. This is a result of the government’s focus on education and growth in the economy during those years. The country has benefited from its education growth, as it has improved the living conditions in Bahrain.
  4. The oil and natural gas industries play a huge role in boosting the country’s economy and thus, the living conditions in Bahrain, as it is involved in 85 percent of its budget revenues. The country’s oil refinery was opened in 1935 and has a capacity of around 250,000 barrels a day.
  5. Although Bahrain does not experience extreme poverty, around 12.2 percent of its population lives on less than $5 per day. There is an income inequality where the wealthiest 20 percent own 41.6 percent of the population’s income. Bahrain’s policies that they have adopted were recognized by UNHABITAT, who saw its efforts in alleviating the poverty of the urban poor through legislation that creates jobs.
  6. Bahrain’s health insurance policies have resulted in universal health coverage for the whole country. In 2018, the government passed the Health Insurance Law (“The Law”) that provides both non-government and government coverage in hopes to create a more competitive economic place.
  7. Bahrain has a problem with childhood obesity, as 35.3 percent of children aged 5-19 are determined obese according to the Nutrition Landscape Information System’s 2015 report. This is alarming, considering that there a lot of negative health qualities associated with obesity such as high blood pressure and heart problems.
  8. It is reported that Bahrain will be facing a water crisis by 2040 because of the handling of its water sources. Between its shortage in freshwater resources and its wells drying up, in the near future, Bahrain might experience challenges in acquiring drinking water and sanitation.
  9. The education system in Bahrain is considered to be one of the highest levels in the Persian Gulf. Not only is education free for all children living in Bahrain, but the Ministry of Education also provides textbooks in each subject for every student enrolled in public schools at no cost. Public education is segregated in terms of gender, and boys and girls are taught by a staff of the same gender.
  10. Women face discrimination in the workforce as they only make up 33 percent of the private workforce in Bahrain. Even though the country has high graduation rates of 60 percent in 2013-2014, women also see discrimination in terms of its bonuses and pay compared to men in the same positions.

For Bahrain, its petroleum exports have benefited the economy as it results in 70 percent of the government’s revenues and 11 percent of its GDP. Along with its petroleum exports, they have heavily invested in tourism and financial sectors in its city in the past decades. Bahrain is a country that is on the up and coming, but it still needs to address water shortage in its future and discrimination toward women.

– Nicholas Ponzio
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Bahrain
The Kingdom of Bahrain is an island country in the Persian Gulf. Though there are large wealth disparities between Shia and Sunni populations, data suggests that there are no Bahraini citizens living in extreme poverty. However, 12.2 percent of citizens are still said to be living on less than $5 a day, suggesting that poverty exists in some form.

While poverty is not widespread in the country, hunger itself is not a major issue though other nutritional concerns persist. To put things into context, here are the top 10 facts about hunger in Bahrain.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Bahrain

  1. Obesity rates increased drastically in recent years, now posing one of the most serious threats to public health in the country. As of 2018, 40 percent of adults and 24 percent of youth are considered to be obese. A shift toward more sedentary lifestyles and changing dietary patterns are to blame for this trend. The growing prevalence of obesity is especially alarming as it can result in an increase of chronic non-communicable diseases, like diabetes and cancer.
  2. In old and new cities alike, green spaces are extremely limited. Coupled with an intensification of sandstorms resulting in desertification, local crops are threatened and many have even become extinct. To combat this, a new agricultural strategy issued by the government has encouraged farmers to preserve their land, and increase the use of greenhouses in agricultural production to ensure food security.
  3. Bahrain, like many developing countries, provides a system of subsidies for basic goods and services. By creating a low, fixed price for goods, the government aids citizens who would otherwise be unable to afford necessities like meat, flour or water. In doing so, the government successfully increases gross consumption by poorer households.
  4. Many low-income Bahraini families benefit from migrant worker remittances. These remittances fund essentials, such as food or utilities, for citizens that otherwise are unable to provide for themselves. Remittances are especially important as they go directly to those in need. According to a study by Adams and Page, a 10 percent increase in per capita official remittances led to a 3.5 percent decrease in total poverty rates.
  5. Only 3 percent of the female population in Bahrain is considered to have a normal body mass index (BMI). The majority, or 65.8 percent, are considered to be overweight with a BMI of 25 or higher. The remaining 36.8 percent are classified as obese, with a BMI of 30 or higher.
  6. In 2012, 10 percent of the Bahraini population was born with a low birth weight. A low birth weight is considered by WHO to be 5.5 pounds or less. The proportion of infants born with a low birth rate can be an indicator of many major public health problems, including long-term maternal malnutrition and poor health care during pregnancy.
  7. As of 2017, only one nutrition professional existed for every 100,000 Bahraini citizens. The lack of adequate training for health professionals is detrimental to nutrition activities and education practices in regular health care. The inability of a country to effectively design and implement nutrition policies and programs directly hurts its citizens, impacting the capacity to plan and deliver nutrition interventions for country-specific health concerns.
  8. Approximately 35.3 percent of children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 19 are considered to be obese. This is especially alarming as immediate consequences include a greater risk of asthma and cognitive impairment. Moreover, an obese child is more likely to become an overweight adult. In the long run, overweight children face higher risks of heart diseases, as well as mental health and reproductive disorders.
  9. As of 2012, 3.6 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 were subject to child labor. There are gender disparities as well, as only 3 percent of child workers are female compared to 6.3 percent of male children. Child labor is believed to be caused by poor living conditions, as families who do not have enough income to provide basics like food and water are forced to find a source of income in any way possible. These children are often unpaid family workers, rather than paid workers in manufacturing establishments, for example.
  10. In 2012, the under-five mortality rate stood at 10 children for every 1,000 live births. High-income and low-income countries have large disparities in child mortality rates. Compared to other higher-income countries averaging 5 deaths for every 1,000 births, Bahrain’s child mortality rates are considered high. These easily preventable deaths often stem from malnutrition and poor living conditions.

Though hunger itself is not a major issue, issues stemming from poor nutrition practices are hurting the country today. Obesity is currently the greatest threat to public health, affecting young and adult populations alike. Those government resources not being used to help fight hunger and malnutrition could then be allocated to educate citizen on better nutrition and health practices.

– Natalie Marie Abdou
Photo: Flick

Common Diseases in Bahrain
People living with HIV/AIDS comprise only .01 percent of Bahrain’s total population. While Bahrain has a very low HIV/AIDS rate compared to other countries in the region, there are still other common diseases in Bahrain.

The Joint Mission found that cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases are all common diseases in Bahrain. Non-communicable diseases cause 78 percent of deaths in Bahrain. Many dietary behaviors are correlated with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Diets high in sodium and fatty acids, for example, can contribute to future cardiovascular diseases.

Cancer in Bahrain also contributes to a small percentage of deaths. Bronchial and lung cancers are the most common among the population of Bahrain. Tobacco use is very common among adults and children daily: one-third of men in Bahrain use tobacco.

Furthermore, much of the population is not physically active and does not eat enough fruits and vegetables. One-third of the population is hypertensive and 15 percent are diabetic. Diabetes has many effects on the population. Diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathies and heart diseases related to diabetes are prevalent in the population.

The government is in the process of coming up with preventative measures to decrease the cardiovascular disease rate and those of other common diseases in Bahrain. The National Health Strategy 2015-2018 will provide health insurance, and an executive committee has been established for a national health insurance program. The committee is currently looking for ways to improve efficiency in using scarce health resources.

Only a small amount of the nation’s budget is allocated for public health each year. In 2014, only 4.98 percent of the budget was spent on healthcare. The density of physicians and nurses has been fairly low over the past few years.

However, there has been some progress made in recent years. For example, the national medicine policy has been updated by the Directorate of Materials Management, and some government sectors have collaborated through the national purchasing committee.

Bahrain has a good economy and relatively low rates of disease compared to other countries in its area. With the proper treatment and education, Bahrain’s cardiovascular disease rate can decrease a small amount at a time. With the help of the government and its people, the country can work to continue to educate everyone on preventative measures.

Treasure Shepard

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Bahrain
The road to and away from poverty is rarely an uncomplicated one. Poverty in Bahrain is one such nuanced phenomenon. The country officially reports that zero percent of people live below the poverty line, and the country excels in many social and political sectors. However, impoverished people do exist in Bahrain, albeit in small numbers. The following are nine important facts about Bahrain, concerning both its causes of poverty and its successes.

  1. The Al Khalifa family created Bahrain in 1782 when they captured land from the Persians. Throughout the 19th century until independence in 1971, Bahrain existed as a British protectorate in an effort to ensure security over its lands.
  2. Sheikh Hamad came to power in 1999. In 2002 he pronounced Bahrain a constitutional monarchy, changing his status from amir to king. Now, Bahrain has one of the best political participation systems in the Persian Gulf, with a well-balanced elected parliament.
  3. Economically, the country once depended on oil reserves, but as those declined, petroleum processing and refining took on a more central role.
  4. The attempt to diversify the economy lost footing, and now oil comprises 86 percent of Bahraini budget revenues. In 2016, low oil prices generated a budget deficit of $4 billion (14 percent of the nation’s GDP).
  5. Despite economic strife, Bahrain’s unemployment rate is at a low of 5.3 percent.
  6. The causes of poverty in Bahrain have spared education. Bahrain’s education system is one of the best in the Persian Gulf, as it was the region’s first country to create a public school system and allow females into all education levels. Education is free for all children in Bahrain.
  7. Thanks to Bahrain’s outstanding education system, the literacy rate is 95.7 percent of the total population.
  8. Access to safe water and sanitation facilities is more than favorable. One hundred percent of the population has access to improved drinking water sources, and 99.2 percent of the population has access to sanitation facilities.
  9. Women’s rights in Bahrain are the most advanced in the Persian Gulf. Women have the right to run for public office, work alongside men in both the public and private sector and wear what they wish without restriction, such as wearing the veil.

If these facts say anything, it’s that a country’s poverty rate does not necessarily speak to the quality of basic human rights like education, water, sanitation, political participation and job security. A fluctuating oil industry is one of the main causes of poverty in Bahrain. However, with aluminum production, finance, construction, banking and tourism all gaining economic momentum, Bahrain may be within range of economic stability and a decrease in poverty.

Sophie Nunnally

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in BahrainBahrain was predicted to have a significant amount of fiscal debts in coming years in July 2016. The debt of Bahrain’s government was expected to rise from 44 percent in GDP (gross domestic product) in 2014, to 83.7 percent in 2016. The answer to how to help people in Bahrain is to prevent such predictions from coming true, and solutions can be seen through the country’s recent opportunities.

The Economic Development Board characterizes Bahrain as a “legislative sector” and “strong financial system,” — a standing which attracts investors. Bahrain is also able to transfer profits, funds and capital without restrictions. Bahrain’s free and open economic policy has given its country the reputation of a fast-growing financial center in the Middle East.

As for Bahrain’s labor productivity rate, the country has seen only a 17 percent increase in this sector over the past 25 years. Compared to countries with labor productivity rate increases of 21 percent, Bahrain’s rate is relatively small. Bahrain also increased its employment rates by offering jobs to citizens in the country’s public sector. However, the jobs were low-wage, causing Bahrain to face a shortage of quality employment.

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (Bahrain’s king in 2008) launched a development program called Vision 2030 to improve Bahrain’s economy. The program aimed for more Bahraini families to have twice as much disposable income by 2030. Less than a decade after Vision 2030’s launch, Bahrain’s economy has grown by 28 percent, and from 2009 to 2014 international investments into Bahrain have risen threefold.

Infrastructure investments in Bahrain have helped the country boost its non-oil sector by 3.7 percent. The sectors that helped this growth were particularly strong in financial performance, social services and construction. Additionally, Bahrain’s volume of active projects doubled from $1.6 billion in the first quarter of 2016 to $3.2 billion in February 2017.

After a six-year absence from Bahrain, Ethiopian Airlines announced in July 2017 that it would resume its services to the country. Ethiopian Airlines will offer three flights per week between its base in Addis Ababa-Bole and Manama (Bahrain’s capital). The airline calls Bahrain a “centre of the main trade routes” with a decade’s worth of growing economy; this too shows how to help people in Bahrain.

Bahrain’s manufacturing sector accounts for 14.4 percent of the country’s GDP. Bahrain also has investment and international growth opportunities in the sub-sectors of food, industrials, and beverage (F&B) and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).

The country plans to invest $32 billion in infrastructure projects in the coming years as well. One-third of the expenses will go toward Bahrain’s manufacturing sector.

Bahrain also works to enhance infrastructure and create more attractions to increase tourism. Earlier this year, Bahrain held an event called “Shop Bahrain” that managed to attract 130,000 shoppers from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other neighboring Gulf states. More business coming to Bahrain could mean more job opportunities for Bahrain’s citizens.

With trade, tourism and Vision 2030, Bahrainis may have many economic opportunities to come. This could prove especially helpful for the four percent of unemployed Bahrainis. These opportunities and the efforts in place to help the country’s economy demonstrate feasible methods of how to help people in Bahrain.

Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr

Diseases in Bahrain
Bahrain is a nation in the Arabian Gulf consisting of a small archipelago. With a population of just over 1.3 million, Bahrain may seem small, but it has some large health issues. Cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes pose the largest threat to health in Bahrain. These non-communicable diseases share many common risk factors that can be controlled in order to prevent disease.

Cardiovascular diseases are common in Bahrain. Twenty-six percent of all deaths in Bahrain can be linked to cardiovascular diseases. Cancer and diabetes are also prevalent diseases in Bahrain and each account for 13% of all deaths. Lung and bronchial cancers as the most common cancers in Bahrain.

Poor dietary behaviors are the largest contributing risk factor for all health issues in Bahrain. Eating a diet high in sodium and trans fats and low in whole grains, fruits and vegetables puts Bahranians at risk for cardiovascular diseases, obesity and diabetes. These diseases are also risk factors for one another, but all have links to poor diet.

Another key risk factor contributing to both cancers and cardiovascular diseases in Bahrain is tobacco use. More than 5,000 children and 185,000 adults use tobacco every day in the country. Four men and one woman are killed by tobacco-related diseases every week.

The Bahrain Cancer Society recognizes the importance of education about risk factors and taking preventative health measures. The government also has active plans and programs that are helping reduce tobacco use and promote healthy diets.

Landmark Group’s Beat Diabetes initiative, for example, is a program launched to help people recognize and prevent diabetes, which is also linked to cardiovascular diseases and shares many of the same risk factors. The initiative was started in 2009, and by 2015 it had reached over six million people throughout the Gulf states.

With preventative measures in place to combat non-communicable diseases and reduce risk factors for disease, Bahrain can reduce the prevalence of some of its most common diseases. Government programs and nongovernmental organizations’ initiatives aimed at preventing and recognizing early signs of disease already point to a hopeful future for Bahrain.

Rilee Pickle

Photo: Flickr