MORE women are set to benefit from major changes made to criteria for government housing services, announced a top official yesterday.
Housing Minister Basem Al Hamer told Shura Council members that women will soon be treated equally as new general criteria for Bahrainis is being studied by the Cabinet's services ministerial committee.
This follows a demand from the National Assembly and the ministry for more women to benefit from the housing services by including more cases referring to women.
However, the minister maintained that women do benefit from the services within the framework of the housing law, cabinet edicts and ministry by-laws than in the past, when they were completely left out.
"Women today get privileges that were never given to them before and our criteria change regularly to accommodate more segments that were not covered before," said Mr. Al Hamer.
"We want more women to benefit and that is why we have asked the Cabinet to help us include more cases, mainly women.
"Currently women who are benefiting from these services are divorcees, widows or those taking care of minors.
"Single Bahraini females that take care of their parents have also now been allowed to acquire housing services," explained the minister.
"There are cases that are difficult to deal with and we have found solutions for them, for example, abandoned women and single women can now get temporary accommodation (apartments) until they get remarried or married."
Mr. Al Hamer said that a committee has been set up, chaired by the ministry's under-secretary, to look into special cases that don't follow existing criteria.
"There are special humanitarian cases that acquire special approval and that is why we have formed the committee, to help them with their needs.
"We want to help women in these cases and to do so we are easing every criterion to ensure that they benefit from housing services, if not under the law then as special cases."
The minister's comments were made following a probe by the council's second vice-chairman Dr Bahiya Al Jishi on the ministry's efforts to include more women under the umbrella of government housing services.
Dr Al Jishi revealed that abandoned women were the ministry's biggest challenge as they were neglected by their husbands for long periods of time.
"They have to wait for a divorce verdict which may take years and they can't wait living miserably when their husbands are enjoying and are careless about their condition," she said.
"Helping them with temporary accommodation is good but they need permanent services and the ministry has to look for solutions."