Woman ex-hawker wants to represent poor in Bahrain’s parliament

Stop Fundamentalism, November 5 – A 40 year old woman, Aminah Abbas, is running to enter the Bahrain’s parliament to represent the poor.


“All candidates speak of combating poverty and improving living standards, but for me, I’m talking of personal experience,” says Abbas, mother of five and one of 18 women candidates in the kingdom’s November 25 parliamentary polls.


“I have experienced poverty and all its hardships… I worked as a street vendor to support my family,” she says.


Her experience of hardship, she adds, prompted her decision to run for parliament. She insists she wants to enter the legislature ”to represent the poor.”


“Businessmen say they want (lawmakers) who represent their interests (in parliament) … I want to defend the poor,” says veiled Aminah, who is in her early forties.


Despite her impeccable poverty credentials, however, she will be hard-pushed to win enough votes in the conservative male-dominated kingdom — all 31 women candidates who ran in the last elections in 2002 lost.


Abbas’s campaign for parliament is not her first experience with elections, having run last year for a seat on the board of Bahrain’s chamber of commerce.


Despite failing to be elected, she describes the experience “successful.”