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Bahrain Women Association
Activities and Programs

• Qualifying female leaders to play an effective role in humanitarian development.
• Informing and instructing people of the risks of violence, environmental and social negligence.
• Collaborating with institutions and authorities working in the same field and having the same objectives on both the local and international levels.

First: “Be Free” Program for Protecting Children against Violence and Negligence:
The “Be Free” Program for protecting children against violence and negligence is the first of its kind in the Middle East.  It started on March 19, 2002 under the auspices of Her Majesty Sheikah Hala bint Deeij Al Khalifah, wife of His Majesty Bahraini Crown Prince. (Annex 1, Figure 1.1).  The program is also supported by Ex. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Mary Robinson (Annex 1. Figure 1.1).

Vision :
Towards a generation free from violence and negligence.

The “Be Free” program plays an important role on both the prophylactic and therapeutic levels.  On the prophylactic aspect, the program teaches and trains children on how to protect themselves against violence by supporting and giving them self-confidence.

The program also teaches and trains parents and guardians on how to bring up a confident and independent child who is capable of taking right decisions during normal conditions as well as during crises.  In addition, the program teaches people how to deal with children who fell victims of violence.  On the therapeutic aspect, the program helps in curing and rehabilitating victims of violence, whether children or adults who are still suffering its terrors, in order to consolidate in society and help in its construction.

Mission :
• Increasing social awareness of dangers of negligence and violence against children.
• Increasing children’s awareness and teaching them basic methods and practical skills to protect themselves against violence.
• Teaching children’s guardians, particularly parents, means of negligence and violence against children.
• Supporting and instructing children, particularly those who fell victims of violence, and helping them to lead a normal life.
• Supporting and instructing adults who fell victims of violence and negligence during their childhood.
• Establishing a hot telephone line for helping both children and adults victims of violence.
• Contributing in the reform of laws concerning children in Bahrain and the region as well.
• Establishing a “Be Free” Center for rehabilitation of children and adults victims of violence and negligence.

Main Achievements :
Educating, strengthening and supporting children through:
1. “Be Free” Electronic Site for Children www.be-free.info
The “Be Free” electronic site is established in both Arabic and English.  It addresses children in a clear, simple and practical language, informing them of different means of violence and helping them to protect themselves against violence.  The site also helps in strengthening children’s characters and improving their skills.

2. Arranging workshops that are full of joy and fun for children in their schools, clubs …etc.
The “Be Free” team work has arranged a number of workshops for practical training of children on different skills, aiming at bringing up strong children who are highly confident of themselves.  Studies state that children of strong characters are less exposed to violence than those of weak characters who lack self-confidence.  Hence, the “Be Free” program team took the initiative of training children on these skills in different regions of Bahrain.  For example, during the summer program of the year 2002 the “Be Free” team collaborated with Salman Cultural Center in Bahrain and trained children aging between 7 and 15 years old on these skills through setting interesting and easy workshops that enable children to play the upper role by participating, communicating and commenting.  At the end of the workshops the children were handed fliers carrying short and clear messages aiming at protecting them and strengthening their characters.  The children were also asked to evaluate the workshops, which proved to be very successful.  The children benefited from such workshops and asked the team to arrange more.  The project is still continuing its program in different institutions where children assemble.

At the end of the year 2004 the “Be Free” team trained about 3000 child aging from kindergarten until secondary school on different practical skills of protection against violence.

B. Educating Children Guardians through :
1. Establishing “Be Free” website www.be-free.info/parents for parents and guardians.
The site aims at educating guardians, particularly parents, of means of violence and negligence.  The site also includes information about children who have been exposed to violence, as well as instructions on how to deal with them (Annex 1, Figure 1.19 – 1.2)

Number of those who visited the site since March 2002 reached about 500000 visitor.

2. Arranging workshops, lectures and symposia
In response to the demand of schools, clubs and other institutions in Bahrain, the “Be Free” team arranged lectures, symposia and workshops to parents and guardians informing them of different means of dealing with children and protecting them against violence and negligence, as well as strengthening their characters and giving them self-confidence.

At the end of the year 2004 the “Be Free” Team trained more than 1400 guardian.

1. Educating Specialists :
Training Teachers:
The “Be Free” team gave a special, condensed training course on practical life skills to a number of teachers in Bahraini schools and kindergartens as well as in some other Gulf countries.  The teachers were trained on means of applying those skills when dealing with children and in teaching them other scientific syllabuses.  The teachers were also provided with special references of life skills.  The training course introduced teachers to children rights and how could these rights become part of the educational curricula.

2. Supporting and Guiding :
1) Establishing the “Be Free” line for help and support.
In December 2004 the “Be Free” program for child protection against violence and negligence started an experimental line “Be Free for Help”.  The line aims at helping children who were exposed to violence and negligence to overcome the psychological problems resulting from such violence.  The line also helps those adults who suffered violence during their childhood and did not get the needed support and guidance and are still suffering its consequences.

For the sake of those children and adults, who unfortunately represent a great number, the “Be Free” program set its support line to open the way for those victims to talk about their experiences with utmost confidentiality which is the main and most important therapeutic step.

2) Electronic Mail
The “Be Free” electronic mail help@be-free.info receives many questions and queries from both children and parents.  60% of those messages are forwarded by adults who were exposed during their childhood to violence; especially sexual violence.  They express their sorrow and regret that they were unaware at that time of the different prophylactic and therapeutic methods introduced on the site, which although are simple could have changed their lives completely or could even have prevented them from being exposed to such violence.

25% of the messages are forwarded by children who fell victims to violence.  15% of the remaining messages come from parents and guardians seeking help and support as well as other messages.

The average number of messages received on the electronic mail is about 300 message monthly.
Increasing Social Awareness :

1) Mass Media
The “Be Free” team depends on mass media and the press as a main tool for delivering information to a large number of people.  They publish periodical articles in local newspapers and Arabic magazines.  Programs discussing issues of violence are also shown on TV. satellite channels, for example Al Jazera channel.  Besides, the team introduces subjects of same concern on the weekly Family program broadcasted on Bahraini radio.  The team was capable of introducing main concepts to the listeners although the duration of the program does not exceed 15 minutes.

2) The Missing of a Young Girl Called Fatma.
The Bahrain Women’s Society took on its shoulders the issue of this young girl who has been missed.  The news was just mentioned on the local newspaper but nobody wrote about her story or even tried to search for her.  The Women’s Society noticed that the society as a whole including its intellectuals do not really realize the dangers resulting from a child being missed, especially that such missing was due to the father’s and his Asian friend mistreatment to the young girl as well as the complete negligence of the mother.  Unfortunately, society treated such issue as a personal family matter rather than a public issue of main concern.  Hence, the Women’s society through its “Be Free” program spread a campaign seeking for the girl and focusing on her story to become a public issue.  Fatma represents a model of those children suffering violence at their own homes.  The campaign succeeded in increasing people’s awareness of issues concerning protection of children against violence and negligence and means of overcoming their consequences.

Second: Environmental Citizenship Program
The Women’s Society adopted the “Environmental Citizenship” chart produced by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) for Western Asia countries.  The chart was officially introduced in September
2001 during the Arab Civil Assemblies Forum.
“Environmental Citizenship” means that citizens at present should be aware of the major environmental issues not of main concern to their nations only but should be rather active members in a bigger group, thus having duties and responsibilities towards other nations worldwide.  Besides, there should be sound and responsible behavior to face the challenges of the present and future.

Program Objectives :
The main objectives of the Environmental Citizenship are:
1. Qualifying citizens to contribute in the environmental reform in order to achieve a continuous development.
2. Protecting the environment from any harmful projects and calling for an environment free from pollution, requesting that any running projects should not cause any damage to the environment on the long run.
3. Increasing people’s awareness of main environmental issues and encouraging them to contribute in decision-making, as well as setting solutions to environmental and developmental problems.
4. Exchanging experiences and collaborating between governmental and non-governmental organizations on one side and the Environmental Citizenship Program Committee affiliated to the United Nations Environmental Program for Western Asia (UNEP) on the other side.
5. Improving environmental behavior in our daily life.

Main Achievements :
First :
Environmental Club
A) Establishment of the First Environmental Club in Bahrain

The first environmental club in Bahrain was opened in a great ceremony on Tuesday 6 May 2003 at the Alaa Al Hadramy Primary School for Boys.  The opening was under the auspices of H.E. Dr. Maged bin Ali Al Noaimy, Minister of Education, and attended by Vice Minister of Education Dr. Hussein Badr, a number of officials, environmentalists, representatives of women assemblies in Bahrain and a number of parents.  H.E. Minister of Education thanked the Women’s Society for its efforts as well as the Alaa Al Hadrami School for this environmental achievement.

The Environmental Club is a complete educational curriculum prepared by the environmental citizenship program team.  It is divided into units, each dealing with an international and local environmental issue; such as the issue of water, sea pollution, excessive use of power, deserts, the ozone layer  ….etc.  The units are well written in an interesting language, including simple practical activities to encourage students give their own remarks and reach conclusions.  Thus enabling them to take decisions regarding their future environmental behavior.

B) Club Evaluation
The Environmental Citizenship program team prepared an evaluation sheet for students members of the Environmental Club for the academic year 2002-2003 to evaluate the activities performed at the club and how much they affected their daily behavior.  The aim of this evaluation sheet was to develop the curriculum before teaching it in all schools starting the academic year 2003-2004.

C) Contribution of a number of schools during the academic year 2003 -2004
Due to the success of the curriculum at the Alaa Al Hadrami School during the academic year 2002-2003, it has been agreed with the Ministry of Education to implement the Environmental Club program in 8 other schools during the academic year 2003 -2004.

D) Training those in charge of the “Environmental Club” Curriculum
It has been agreed with the United Nations Environmental Program for Western Asia to set training workshops for those teaching the Environmental Club curriculum in schools during the coming years.

Second : My Environment Unit for Kindergartens
A) Preparing “My Environment Unit” Guide Book.
The Women’s Society noted the importance of environmental education at an early age starting from kindergarten.  This age is considered the most important period of life when children can learn social behavior.  Hence, the educational unit called “My Environment noted children’s concerns at this early age at which they have an absolute love to nature and all their surroundings.

B) Establishment of “My Environment” Unit
Al Hanan kindergarten in Bahrain adopted this project.  It started by implementing “My Environment” Guide Book for children of different ages at the kindergarten during the year 2002-2003.

C) Training those responsible for “My Environment Unit”
The project team started training those responsible for teaching the curriculum by arranging workshops including friendly and formal activities.

D) Implementing the program in a number of kindergartens during the year 2003-2004
A number of kindergartens in Bahrain showed interest in teaching the “My Environment” Guide Book during the academic year 2003-2004, after the great success it has achieved in Al Hanan Kindergarten.

Third : “Family Issues” Radio Program
The Ministry of Information asked the Citizenship program to present an environmental educational series within the Bahraini radio program “Family Issues” broadcasted every Saturday.  The series aim at increasing people’s awareness, especially women, of environmental issues, such as environmental protection starting from home, women’s role in protecting the environment, and the importance of spreading environmental awareness.  The series also discussed global issues of main concern, such as shortage of water, excess use of electricity …etc.  In addition the program hosted a number of citizens who have sound environmental behavior to set an example for others.

Fourth : “Success of a Woman” Program

Main Objectives of the Program
Giving women power in society.

The issue of giving women power in modern societies has become of great concern, believing that any development or investment in women is but a development and investment in the whole society since women represent about half the society.
Hence, the idea of arranging this program rose to draw people’s attention to the importance of giving women power on both the short and long terms in Bahrain.

The program started on 7 July 2003.

Program Objectives :
1. Increasing women confidence in their abilities and scientific skills.
2. Establishing a new women’s approach within the framework of a civilized human, cultural and intellectual aspect.
3. Developing women and improving their skills to face the challenges of the age.
4. Solving problems down rooted in the society concerning treatment of women.
5. Increasing social awareness of women rights.
6. Increasing social awareness of “gender” role and its importance in social and human development.

Main Achievements :
A) Arranging a Training Workshop on Women Rights from a Generic Aspect.
The “Success of a Woman” program arranged a training workshop on women rights from a generic aspect during the period from 7 to 9 October 2003 lectured by Dr. Nawal Ammar, Kent University, USA.

The workshop aimed at having a group of qualified women capable of increasing Bahraini women’s awareness of the social (gender) role, starting with those who are much involved in the society then widening the scope to include all other social classes.

Aspects of the Workshop:
The workshop discussed the following main aspects:
• Effect of society in bringing up both men and women (theoretical side).
• Effect of society in bringing up both men and women (practical side).
• Social role of both men and women (gender).
• Gender and Islam.
• Case studies of generic discrimination and its effects:
• First case: Law of Nationality
• Second case: Women and political decision-making.
Women rights in education, work, and housing were also discussed, pointing to international conferences and their understanding of gender.  Statistics were also shown on education, illiteracy, problems of housing, job opportunities for women, as well as teaching and qualifying women to become decision-makers.
It was also mentioned that social upbringing plays an important role in the lives of women and their ability to take sound decisions and how to bear any consequences. 
It is worth mentioning that “Success of a Woman” program trained about 157 men and women from different civil assemblies and social centers as well as ministries during the period from 7 October 2003 to 29 January 2004.

Fifth : “Generous Hands” Program
This program aims at providing help to those children suffering hereditary and chronic diseases and who are being hospitalized for long periods of time, thus deprived from communicating with their family members, children of same age, as well as other members of society.  This program gives them emotional support and trains them on how to adapt themselves to life and accept their own fates with confidence, strength, and optimism.  The program also teaches their parents how to treat them and understand their needs.

The program started on September 25, 2002 under the auspices of
H.E. Dr. Faisal Al Mosawi, Former Minister of Health.

The program objective is to bring up children of strong characters, independent, confident, socially active, capable of facing challenges, intellectual and aware of the changes taking place in society despite their weaknesses and sickness, children who are full of love and tenderness capable of playing a role in society.

Program Objectives :
1. Supervising the social upbringing of children, and developing concepts of self-respect as well as helping them to adapt with their lives and accept their fates.
2. Giving great concern to the cultural education of children and their eagerness to reading, research and knowledge.
3. Helping sick children to develop their skills and capabilities.
4. Supporting families, particularly mothers, in order to help their children to adapted to their lives.
5. Increasing social awareness of sick children’s needs and ambitions.

Main Achievements :

Educational Support to hospitalized children (the success story of Ahmed Ashour)
The educational aspect is considered the main target of this program “Generous Hands”.  It provides hospitalized children with teachers to help them do their home works, as well as follow up on their progress at school.  The program team meets with social workers, administrators, and teachers and then write a report on each child’s behavior and educational progress.

Although these children are registered in governmental schools, they do not go regularly and sometimes they even miss their classes for months or more because of their chronic illness.  This causes them great problems when going back to school.  In best cases a member of the family starts teaching the sick child the lessons he missed, but some other children are really unfortunate and they do not get such help.  The “Generous Hands” program took on its shoulders the mission of teaching those children most subjects, especially mathematics, English, Arabic and science whether at home or in hospital.  The program team also helps those children to pass their mid-term and final exams so as not to become failures besides their other sufferings.  Such support helped those children and made them succeed in their schools. 
Ahmed Ashour is a good example of success despite his chronic illness.  He was capable of completing his preparatory school with good grades in all subjects.

The “Generous Hands” program succeeded in giving much care to children suffering hereditary blood diseases through three phases: providing those children with teachers in different subjects, supporting them emotionally and psychologically, and finally rehabilitating them and improving their skills and qualifying them to face life.

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