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Bahraini education unionist Jalila al Salman given EI’s Mary Hatwood Futrell Award

Education International’s Executive Board has named Jalila al Salman, a lifelong teacher and trade unionist who has dedicated her life to education, and to representing teachers in Bahrain, as the recipient of the Mary Hatwood Futrell Human and Trade Union Rights Prize for her outstanding engagement and courage in promoting education for all.

Unwavering commitment to democracy, equality and human and trade union rights despite public harassment by authorities

Following democracy protests in Bahrain in February 2011, al Salman was unjustly imprisoned for six months. She was threatened, beaten and subject to acts of humiliation and torture by the authorities because of her trade union activities. 

In defiance of the restrictions imposed on her, al Salman has fought, without hesitation, for the rights of teachers in Bahrain to organise free from political interference. She has challenged the authorities in Bahrain to fully respect the rights of teachers in accordance with International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. 

Following her release from prison, al Salman has continued to be a vocal champion for the rights of teachers and students, despite continued threats, intimidation and detentions.

An ardent campaigner for the rights of women and girls in Bahrain and the region, she has been an active representative and contributor to the Education International (EI) World Women’s Conference, UN Commission on the Status of Women and other meetings to advance the goal of equality for women and girls.

Under al Salman’s leadership, the Bahrain Teachers Association (BTA) is a recognised and vital member of the EI global trade union family. She continues to work to ensure a voice for Bahrain’s teachers within EI. She has also contributed to efforts to build EI’s regional structures for member organisations within the Arab countries in the Middle East.

International recognition of Bahraini teachers’ struggle

Al Salman has been a focal point of efforts in the International community to secure respect for human and trade union rights in Bahrain, the Middle East and around the world. During the period of the imprisonment of BTA President, Mahdi Abu Dheeb, and at personal risk to her own safety, al Salman campaigned vigorously for his release. She refused to be silenced. 

Al Salman’s struggle for freedom and Justice was also recognised by Amnesty International in 2012, and she was honoured with the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers’ International Solidarity Award in 2013 on behalf of teachers in the UK. In 2015, she was awarded the prestigious, Norwegian Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights. 

In 2018, the International Labour Conference concluded that Bahrain was continuing to fail to respect human and trade union rights, including the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association. As a result of al Salman’s tireless efforts, the treatment of the BTA has been highlighted by the ILO Committee of Experts as evidence of the abuse of workers’ rights in Bahrain. 

The Award will officially be presented to Al-Salman at EI’s 8th World Congress, to held from 18-26 July 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand.


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