NASUWT International Solidarity Award winner Jalila Al-Salman has received a prestigious human and trade union rights award from Education International (EI).She has been awarded the Mary Hatwood Futrell Human and Trade Union Rights Prize for her outstanding engagement and courage in promoting education for all.
The Executive Board of EI named Jalila, a lifelong teacher and trade unionist who has dedicated her life to education, and to representing teachers in Bahrain, as the recipient of the award.
Following democracy protests in Bahrain in February 2011, Jalila 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 she 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, she 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.
She was awarded the NASUWT International Solidarity Award in 2013 and continued to fight as the voice of the Bahrain Teachers Association (BTA) making it 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.
Jalila continued to campaign for the release of jailed BTA President Mahdi Abu Dheeb, at great risk to her own safety, refusing to be silenced.
Al Salman’s struggle for freedom and Justice was also recognised by Amnesty International in 2012, and 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 Jalila’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.
In a letter to Jalila, NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates and NASUWT Deputy General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach told her:
“You have continued to be a vocal champion for the rights of teachers and students. In spite of continued threats, intimidation and detentions, you have remained a forthright advocate for the rights of teachers and for the rights of all children to quality public education.
“You have been an ardent campaigner for the rights of women and girls in Bahrain and the region. We are also proud to work alongside you as a key contributor to the EI World Women’s Conference, UN Convention on the Status of Women and in other forums to advance the goal of equality for women and girls.
“In the most challenging of circumstances, your determined leadership has assured the Bahrain Teachers Association of its recognition as a vital member of the global trade union family within Education International. You are not only a voice for Bahrain’s teachers but also for human and trade union rights in the Middle East and around the world.
“We are sure that you know how highly the NASUWT values the work that you continue to do on behalf of teachers and students in Bahrain, and for the cause of education, human rights and women’s rights. You have been an inspiration to the NASUWT and the international community.
“We look forward to congratulating you in person at the 8th EI World Congress 2019 as the global community of education trade unionists meet to honour you for your contribution to education and human and trade union rights in Bahrain.”