About Us

A Hestorical Over View

The idea of establishing a society dedicated to women in Bahrain, was born in 1967 by some Bahraini female students who were studying in Beirut and Cairo universities and who were exposed to the social and cultural changes in the Arab world at the time. In the Summer of 1967 those students disseminated the idea among their educated friends, mainly teachers and students inside the country. The response was unexpectedly encouraging.

AWS Main Accomplishments:

Since its foundation, members of AWS voluntarily worked towards realizing the Society’s objectives. Their efforts resulted in achieving the following:

The Society was officially recognized on March 25, 1970 under the name of Awal Women Society (AWS), with the following objectives:

  1. Enhance women’s status in Bahrain by promoting their cultural and social awareness.
  2. Educate women in matters related to their legal rights and encourage them to practice these rights.
  3. Participate in all activities aiming at introducing a family civil law.
  4. Support and defend the rights and interests of the working woman.
  5. Integrate women, in the main stream development, as full partners.
  6. Establish a women union in Bahrain
  7. Promote the cultural, social and health awareness in the society.
  8. Work towards eradication of illiteracy.
  9. Participate in efforts supporting human rights on the national, regional and international levels.
  10. Establish and strengthen relations with the local non-government organizations which have similar objectives.
  11. Establish and strengthen relations with the Arab and international organizations with similar objectives.

Eradication of Illiteracy among women:

Education is one of the main paths leading to women’s emancipation. Illiteracy rate, especially among women was very high during the sixties and early seventies. Official efforts were limited and mainly targeted men. The sole adult’s education activity available for women, at the time, was in Manama. Moreover, illiteracy program was not free of charge; hence it was not feasible to poor women.

It is worth noting that AWS was the first voluntary organization to launch a program for eradication of illiteracy among women. The program was free of charge and AWS members volunteered their time as teachers.
Later on, the Ministry of Education established the Adults Education Centers in the main cities and villages. AWS members cooperated actively with these efforts and continued their voluntary contribution through teaching. Moreover, some teachers were recruited by AWS to teach at its center for adult education.

AWS became member in the National Committee for the Eradication of Illiteracy, established in 1970 under the auspices of the Ministry of Education. This Committee is charged with drawing up the country’s policies and strategies in this domain.
It was noted that mothers with young children discontinue their education as they have no body to take care of their children while they are studying. AWS took the initiative of establishing free of charge evening childcare centers at two centers.

II. Family Education:

Family awareness goes hand in hand with AWS efforts to protect women’s rights. AWS efforts in family education could be summarized as follows:

  • Visiting families in rural areas and providing them with advices on primary health, child care and nutrition.
  • Holding lectures at schools on subjects pertaining to women and family.
  • Drawing up a comprehensive social awareness program for the women studying at the adult’s education centers.

III. AWS and Women’s Rights:

Increasing women’s awareness of their rights is one of AWS objectives. The following steps were undertaken in this respect:

  1. Supporting women’s political rights and calling for women participation at the first National Assembly in Bahrain
  2. Playing an active role at the Committee of Family Civil Law (CFCL) which held lectures, debates and seminars at clubs schools and centers of adult education, to discuss the importance of such law to the wellbeing of the society. In addition, they met with key Ministers and high level officials to emphasize the need for a unified civil law.
  3. Defending working women at both the private and public sectors through achieving the following:
    • Participating at the consultative meetings under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, to discuss the articles pertaining to working women in the Labour Law before its enactment.
    • Providing supports to working women who lost their jobs due to sex discrimination.
    • Supporting working mothers in their fight to improve working conditions.
    • Establishing a kindergarten to take care of the working women’s children.
  4. Forming Women’s Affairs Committee to assist women with financial and legal problems (mainly their marriage and custody issues). AWS in cooperation with the Bahrain Bar Society succeeded in reaching to acceptable solution to some cases.

IV. Other Activities:

  • Organizing lectures on different subjects ranging from poetry and literature to subjects with special focus on women and family.
  • Issuing a periodic entitled “’AWAL” in addition to publishing researches and field studies on matters related to AWS goals.
  • Inviting local and/or visiting specialists to discuss different subjects on gender and development.
  • Assisting low income working women by organizing promotional bazaars and helping them market their products.
  • Holding bazaars aiming at increasing AWS budget and mobilizing financial resources for charitable activities.
  • Providing financial and in kind assistance to low income families and assisting women to get suitable accommodation or jobs.
  • Participating and contributing to the Students Fund which provides assistance to students from poor families to enables them to continue their education.
  • Establishing cultural and social centers during the summer school holidays where young girls can participate and develop their hobbies and interests.
  • Honoring distinguished secondary school graduates- both male and females- to encourage them to pursue their education.

AWS is administered by an executive committee of 7 members who are elected annually. To know more about AWS current activities please visit the projects and activities page in our website.