Research Articles

Women Candidates and Arab Media: Challenging Conservatism in Bahraini Politics



Women have yet to enter to Bahrain’s parliament despite being permitted to run for some years. With its king promoting social and economic change, the media has portrayed positive images of Arab women as professionals against a backdrop of religious conservatism. The communications strategy adopted by some women candidates to attain election to parliament and the response of the local media are analysed utilizing content analysis. Despite some variation of coverage, the media in this Persian Gulf country were found to be fair to all women candidates and generally gender‐neutral. Although the women candidates who applied a well thought‐out communications strategy did better in media coverage and voting results, ultimately none were elected. This article explores the reasons for this failure in terms of Islamist religious interpretations of the role of women and Arab cultural conventions regarding family life. Finally, the authors speculate briefly about the prospects of political communications by women challenging Arab cultural conservatism in the future.

Keywords: women candidates, print media, political communication, Islam, Bahrain, Arab culture

How to Cite: Otaibi, M. (2017) “Women Candidates and Arab Media: Challenging Conservatism in Bahraini Politics”, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture. 8(2). doi: