#TheWomen

Maryam Mohammed Al Nashwan

A Woman of Justice - The Fruit of Hard Work

Chief of Legal Affairs, the Constitutional Court of Bahrain 

I am one of six sisters. We don’t have brothers, but our father never let us feel we were any less than men. Our father is a strong person and he raised us all to be equally strong and hardworking. He believed that we should have the same goals and career choices as men. We were each given the freedom to choose our own path and as a result of this progressive attitude towards education, my sisters and I have careers in law, business, public relations, human resources and IT, MashaAllah.

I attended a Government School in Riffa, and I knew ever since I was a teenager, that I wanted to study law. When I initially told some people about my future aspirations, not everyone was encouraging, but I didn’t let that stop me. I chose law as I have always had a strong sense of justice and I like to think about what is right. The University of Bahrain first began offering law as a degree in 1999/2000 and I enrolled in 2001. Before then, those from Bahrain wanting to study a BL/LLB would go abroad to study, to places like Lebanon, Egypt or Kuwait. I was in the third batch of students to undertake law in Bahrain. Our class was small, but we had the opportunity to learn from experienced lawyers and highly regarded professors from around the Middle East, particularly Egypt and Iraq. Many of my classmates were women and when we were studying, we worked just as hard (if not harder!) than the men.

As a university student, I visited the Constitutional Court of Bahrain on a class excursion. It was a new court, established to examine when laws are in conflict with the Constitution. After our excursion, I remember feeling inspired and coming home and telling my family that I wanted to work there one day. My dream came true when I finished my degree in 2006 and soon after, applied for and successfully secured a junior legal research position at the Constitutional Court of Bahrain.  Within a few years, I was promoted to senior legal researcher and in 2013, I was honoured to be appointed Chief of Legal Affairs. I am the first woman to hold the position of Chief of Legal Affairs at a court in Bahrain. The Constitutional Court of Bahrain has now been in existence for 15 years and I have completed almost 13 years here. I am proud to have played an important role as a researcher on many significant cases that have come through this court.

Maryam at work at the Constitutional Court of Bahrain.
Headline: “The first woman to head legal affairs at the Constitutional Court” and subheading: “The success of women in the judiciary is the fruit of long years of hard work.”

When I first began working at the Court, I received a lot of training on court protocol. The Judges themselves were all very helpful and I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn daily from our esteemed judiciary. I’ve learned from the best. As a researcher, it is not simply enough for me to understand and interpret constitutional law. Challenges to the constitution can be filed about a variety of areas of law, so it is of vital importance for me to have a broad understanding of all jurisdictions in Bahrain. I am proud to have established myself as a hardworking and efficient researcher. I have never felt that I am any different to the males in my field. There is no difference between men and women in the Law.

I think that whatever stage in life you are at, you must continue to learn. I am currently undertaking a Master of Law. Juggling work, studies and family life isn’t easy, but I think it’s important. My husband and children are proud of my achievements and my husband is very encouraging and supportive. We work in entirely different fields and I think this is nice as we don’t have to talk about work at home.  My daily routine is like most other mothers, in the little spare time that I have, I sit with the children in the evenings, spend time with them and help them do their homework. We have a simple life.

Although it’s not easy being a working mother, I think that my children have learnt many good lessons by watching me work. They are learning the importance of hard work and perseverance. They are also seeing how much I love my work. My son told me that he thinks I am very strong and that he wants to be a lawyer like me one day. It is a lovely feeling to have your sons look up to you.

I think my advice to any young person, is to find what makes you happy and do what you love. Above all, have pride in the work that you do. I am honoured to serve my country in one of its highest courts. For me, there is no greater honour than this.

Maryam being presented by the Hon. Judge Dr. Muna Jassim Al Kuwary (the first woman Judge in Bahrain).
Maryam Mohammed Al Nashwan

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