Women Driving Change: The Journey towards Women’s Legal Empowerment in Bahrain

A small island situated in the middle of the Persian Gulf, the Kingdom of Bahrain is touted as one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East for women’s equality and advancement. It is a diverse and more religiously liberal country in comparison with some of her neighbors. Legally, Bahraini women are recognized in the Bahraini Constitution as equal to Bahraini men in “political, social, cultural and economic spheres of life, without prejudice to the provisions of the Islamic Shariah.” Bahrain is also a member of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and in 2017, adopted the unified Personal Status Law (PSL – known also as the Bahrain Family Law) – an important step in the protection of both Sunni and Shi’ite women under an inclusive legal framework, following trends in the region. Throughout 2020, the Supreme Council for Women took measures to protect these advancements and mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Persistent Challenges for Bahraini Women

Despite the gains made in the past 20 years, systemic barriers to women’s legal equality and empowerment continue to exist. For example, Bahraini citizenship for children is determined by the citizenship of the father. Bahraini women who are married to non-Bahraini men cannot pass their citizenship onto their children, leaving their children effectively stateless and without legal protection.

Some barriers were exacerbated by the restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. For instance, due to mandatory lockdowns and curfews in Bahrain, victims of domestic abuse were forced to reside with their abusers for long stretches of time. One such woman—who for security reasons will remain nameless—wished to obtain a divorce due to domestic abuse she was suffering during the pandemic. However, in Bahrain it is difficult both legally and culturally for a woman to divorce a man, including due to domestic violence. Legally, when a woman files for a divorce due to abuse, the process requires this same woman to first provide proof of the abuse or harm; her word alone is not sufficient. Therefore, women who are subjected to violence—including the woman mentioned here—are forced to first file a police report and a obtain a medical report, following a medical examination, to prove the harm in court. Additionally, the pandemic has delayed court hearing processes and prevented lawyers from meeting with clients.

Culturally, domestic violence is seen as a household issue. There is no official database with domestic violence statistics in Bahrain.  The stigma around reporting domestic violence exists, dissuading anyone from formally moving forward with the process. A man, on the other hand, can submit a request for divorce without even informing his wife and without any cause. 

An Opportunity to Advance Further Legal Reforms

Adopting the unified Personal Status Law in 2017 was a positive step towards women’s equality in Bahrain. Yet there are still improvements to be made, as was revealed by the impacts of the pandemic. Women-led local civil society organizations (LCSOs) are in the driver’s seat and are demanding further reforms. Since 2019, Bahrain’s women-led local civil society organizations have taken the lead on drafting amendments to the unified Personal Status Law and, in December 2020 they finalized a list of amendments to ultimately be presented to the Bahraini parliament for adoption in the future.

In the coming months, these LCSOs will launch a series of advocacy efforts aimed at the amendments’ adoption. This will begin by publishing the proposed amendments and meeting with relevant Bahraini authorities. The work of Bahraini women civil society leaders in the context of shrinking civic space demonstrates the power of long-term, collective efforts. The persistence, resiliency, and determination of this group drive the transformative change for a more inclusive, equitable, and prosperous society.

  April 16, 2021

Partners West Africa Senegal, Partners West Africa Nigeria, and PartnersGlobal are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 General Lamine Cissé Women, Peace and Security Research Fellowship.

Esah Holy ANAGHO is a Ph.D. candidate in International Relations and Conflict Resolution at the University of Buea – Cameroon. Her research is entitled, “Conflict Resolution, Peacebuilding and Counter-terrorism: The Roles of women in the North West, South West and Far North Regions of Cameroon.”

For almost a decade, Cameroon has experienced multiple conflicts that have gravely affected women and girls. The Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s Far North region and the separatist armed conflict in the North-West and South-West regions (the two English speaking or Anglophone regions of the country) have endangered the affected populations generally, but have been especially grievous for women and girls. Anagho’s innovative research will assess:

  • What are the roles of women in the Cameroon Anglophone Conflict?
  • In what ways has the Cameroon Anglophone conflict affected women and girls?
  • To what extent have women been able to contribute to the peace processes of the Cameroon Anglophone conflict?

Captain Mame Rokhaya LÔ is the Head of the Gender Desk within the Senegalese National Gendarmerie.

Captain Lo’s research is called, “Gender, Recruitment Strategies, and Management of Human Resources in the Senegalese National Gendarmerie.” With this research, she aims is to highlight gaps in current policy and practice, make policy recommendations, and engage decision-makers with the security sector for transformative change.

Five Years of the Partners for Security in Guinea project

Through its five years (2015-2020) the Partners for Security in Guinea project worked to build trust between police and citizens and reform Guinea’s security sector through community policing. It took collaboration among the Guinean government, law enforcement, community leaders, and everyday citizens and a committment from all to sharping a security sector that was more inclusive and effective as well as rights-respecting.

Take a look through the stories, videos and materials that capture some of the project’s successes, innovations, and best practices and hear from those most involved in the project about their experiences in shaping a more secure Guinea.

About the project

From 2015-2020, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has supported PartnersGlobal and consortium members COGINTA and CECIDE in implementing the Partners for Security in Guinea project. The project’s goal was to institute community policing in Guinea and to reform the security sector by improving relationships between police and communities so they could collaboratively address shared security challenges. Learn more about the project here.

Read about the project’s best practices and impact

Guide to Best Practices on community policing in Guinea The Guide shares the innovative initiatives, tools, and best practices that contributed to the project’s success and that can inform community policing initiatives and security sector reform in other countries Read More
In Guinea, citizens become “actors in their own security” Read about this national approach to improve police effectiveness and build citizen-police trust through officer training, community-based policing, and positive community-police interactions. Read More

Cliquez pour accéder au Guide en français.

Learn about our 2019 Share Fair

Click the reports below to read about the lessons learned and successes discussed at the Partners for Security in Guinea Share Fair.

Watch our webinar and check out the presentations below

Check out our video library

Jeudi 25 mars 2021
10:30 AM – 12 PM EST/ 14h30 – 16h GMT

Mot d’ouverture : Esther B. Joe, Chargée des programmes Afrique et Moyen Orient, INL


  • Mme Marguerite TEWA-CAMARA, Directrice Pays, COGINTA-Guinée : « Initiative des policiers référents à l’école » – promouvoir le dialogue entre la police et les élèves.
  • M. Moussa NIMAGA, Coordinateur du programme Paix-Justice-Sécurité, CECIDE : « La caravane des femmes » – restaurer la confiance avec la police et les femmes.
  • M. Fodé Shapo TOURE, Conseiller du Ministre de la Sécurité et de la Protection Civile : « Institutionnalisation de la police de proximité en Guinee ».

Modératrice : Dr. Solange Bandiaky-Badji, Directrice Senior des programmes Afrique et Femmes-Paix-Sécurité, PartnersGlobal

Cliquez pour accéder au Guide des Bonnes Pratique – Partenaires pour la sécurité en Guinée: la réforme de la police au service des citoyens

by Hala Noman   March 9, 2021

Al-Anood is a young Yemeni woman (age 19) who was forced into an early marriage to a man who had originally wanted to marry her sister, but she refused. Once they were wed, the man regularly beat and insulted Al-Anood. After they divorced, the abuse continued, and he threatened to end Al-Anood’s life and her sister’s. Last October, he marched into her house and assaulted her acid, causing burns to her eyes, face, and across her body.

While this horrible crime happened in October 2020, it wasn’t published in the media until February 2021. For more than two months, no one knew about Al-Anood’s story. After the case was published in local news and social media, many people showed great empathy for Al-Anood and advocated for justice on her behalf.

This story came on the heels of other reported incidents of gender-based violence in Al-Mukalla, which many referenced in comments about the case on Facebook. Commenters stated that there are hundreds of  unknown “Al-Anoods” out there who are treated just as poorly if not worse.

However, not all commenters showed empathy or advocated for justice. Some posted excuses for the perpetrator or pointed the finger at Al-Anood.

“Some women deserve to burn. They have loud voices and want to work in NGOs. They lack minds and their proper place is in the kitchen.” said one of the commenters

A fear of reporting gender-based violence

In a country like Yemen, where the majority of the demographic structure is tribal, acts of violence against women are often not discussed and are rarely covered in media.

Affected by strict masculinity traditions, a lack of information about possible protection laws, and fear of stigma, many women stay silent when they are violated or subjected to violence.  Harassment or sexual abuse are extremely sensitive issues that women too often do not report due to fear of further stigma, family rejection, and other negative social implications.

Even female journalists often avoid covering issues related to gender, gender-based violence, sexual abuse, or other topics that may provoke the authorities or place a target on them or their families.

According to a 2010 Country Assessment on Violence Against Women:

“Violence Against Women (VAW) is rarely addressed in media policies, strategies, and programs. The media often avoids addressing such issues, considering them sensitive…Also, the media does not help overcome the discriminating circumstances; rather it deepens the stereotyped pattern of women. Furthermore, the media is not conveying repeated message of deep resolve to curb VAW. In fact, the media only covers occasional events on women’s issues, such as International Women Day on 8 March or events implemented by women organizations sporadically. Apart from that, programs on combating VAW are not an integral part of media strategies and programs”.

More than ten years later, these words sadly still ring true.

Attacks against women on social media

Facebook became the most used social media platform in Yemen in February 2019 at which point there were more than 2 million Facebook users in the country, 86 percent of whom were men. The majority of female Facebook users use fake names and profile pictures as women are regularly targeted on the platform and may face danger offline as a result.

Yemeni Facebook users write vicious comments that attack women and girls. This past Valentine’s Day, for instance, some couples in Taiz shared pictures on Facebook of them carrying red roses. Afterward, a bullying campaign attacked these couples, targeting the women in particular.

Changing roles of women, same narratives

After more than six years of ongoing conflict, the roles of Yemeni women have changed dramatically. With many male family members leaving their homes to fight or seek work, women became heads of households and took on new tasks outside the home.

Women suffer greatly when male members of the household die, are injured, detained, or disappeared. Yet the media rarely convey this suffering or present it to the public, not only because media channels, broadcasts, and newspapers are geared to serve the interests of a specific conflicting party, but also due to a lack of media professionals who understand and are willing to openly discuss the perspectives and challenges of women.

When a women’s case is published in media outlets, the empathy of the audience will depend on the way the case is presented. Lack of objectivity in presenting women’s experiences during the conflict or using women’s tragedies to drive donations make the audience less interested in following these issues.

To better protect women, to raise awareness of gender-based violence, and to better represent women’s experiences and perspectives, we need to change the way media engage with and cover “women’s issues.” Here are three recommendations:

  • Media professionals should receive intensive training on how to report objectively, especially around sensitive topics and incidents of violence against women;
  • Media outlets need to dispatch more positive stories of women, not just women as victims, and women’s suffering shouldn’t be misused or misreported;
  • We need to increase legal protections for journalists, so they have the freedom to report openly and objectively.

These changes won’t solve our problems overnight and won’t end violence against women or harmful depictions of women in the media. But they are one way to start building a media culture, and a greater Yemeni culture, that support equality.

Hala Noman is a Program Manager for PartnersYemen

  February 23, 2021

In honor of General Cissé , PartnersGlobal, Partners West Africa Nigeria and Partners West Africa Senegal are awarding research fellowships to two young African women researchers and practitioners working in the civil society and security sectors. Each fellow will receive a grant equivalent of 1,500,000 CFA (West African franc) to fund innovative research around the prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa with a central focus on women, peace and security.

With these fellowships, the Partners Network aims to cultivate the next generation of leaders in women, peace and security and make progress toward realizing UNSCR 1325.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

Only future or ongoing research projects are eligible for the Fellowship.

The selection criteria applied for the project appraisal are:

  1. Applicant’s capacity to carry out quality research (level of education, professional experience, published work, academic support);
  2. Relevance and originality of the issue in relation to current security and gender issues;
  3. Link to the themes selected for the Fellowship, as specified in Article 3;
  4. Methodology and structuring of the work;
  5. Analytical development of the project narrative and the planned fieldwork;
  6. Interest of the results and the practical impact of contributions.

Application requirements

Submit the complete application file electronically by March 15, 2021 to [email protected]

The application must contain the following files:

  • 1 Resume/CV (contact details including home address and possibly institutional address, training, career path and professional project, photograph);
  • 1 transcript of the Master’s degree and/or the doctoral research proposal approved by the committee members/ or a transcript of the doctoral/PhD diploma;
  • 1 Letter of recommendation;
  • 1 Copy of a research work already carried out (thesis chapter, scientific article, etc.);
  • 1 research proposal for the General Lamine Cissé Fellowship (10 pages) including the following sections, in .doc or .docx format:
    • Aim/goal of the research;
    • Research problem;
    • Research methodology;
  • In the appendix of the research project:
    • Indicative references;
    • Research timeline;
    • Estimated research budget.

Incomplete applications or those arriving after the Closing Date will not be considered. See the flyer below for more details.

  October 16, 2020

Police Officer Ramata Mamadou Diallo grew up surrounded by insecurity, domestic violence, theft, and the marginalization of women. She understood early on that women and children suffered the most in this environment.

It is for this reason that when she got an opportunity to take a test to join the public servant corps in 2005, she requested to be assigned to the Ministry of Security and Civilian Protection. She wanted to protect and be of service to children and women who were victims of violence and contribute to peace and stability for families in her community. Three years later, in 2008, Officer Diallo formally joined the Guinea National Police.

Shortly after joining the police, Officer Diallo began advocating for greater integration of the gender dimensions in all police work, including in recruitment and training efforts. She favors using ongoing media messaging to sensitize women and youth on the role of police in securing their communities. Increasing women’s enrollment in the police is a goal of hers.

“Women’s participation in the security sector is a net positive because their service leads to trust, allows dialogue, and strengthens community policing,” says Officer Diallo.

“In all of the services where women police officers are in charge, women victims are well received, which has increased the likelihood that women victims will seek redress and protection,” she adds

Through her many training sessions in and out of Guinea, Officer Diallo has gotten a better understanding of the challenges women face, but these sessions have also strengthened her belief that progress is possible. She does caution, however, that a “greater solidarity among women is needed to succeed.”

In 2012, Officer Diallo was appointed to lead the Labé regional office of the Office of Protection of Gender, Children and Morals (known by its French acronym OPROGEM). This position, she said, allows her to realize her dream of serving and protecting women and children.

She has had many successes, but none seems to measure up to her 2015 rescue of an underage girl, straight from the hands of her kidnappers. The girl, a minor, had attempted to call her parents from a cell phone. Officer Diallo and her team used the mobile phone number to locate the victim and free her.

As part of the Partners for Security in Guinea project, Officer Diallo led multiple dialogue sessions between police, women, and youth. She visited several schools through the Police in School initiative that seeks to bridge the gap between teenagers and the police through civic education. She also contributed to the establishment of local security and violence prevention forums and trained local leaders on conflict resolution and crime prevention.

Prior to eventually retiring from Guinea’s National Police, Officer Diallo looks forward to serving at the national and international levels. She hopes her native Guinea will continue to honor a 30 percent gender recruitment quota and promote women officers to meaningful posts that will inspire the next generation of women police officers.

  October 15, 2020

Police Captain Jeanne Sagno has been with the Guinea National Police since 2008. She joined the police because she believes it serves an important role for public good—protecting people and their property, guaranteeing the security of state institutions, maintaining and restoring public order, and fighting criminality and gender-based violence.

In her more than decade-long service, two events have left an indelible mark on her: the rape of a 12-year-old girl who died from abortion complications and the case of a woman now permanently disabled from her husband’s domestic abuse. These events cemented her belief that women must be represented in the security sector in great numbers for community policing (police de proximité) to succeed. She says that because women constitute one of society’s vulnerable groups and are also victims of multiple forms of violence, they are best placed to provide actionable recommendations on how to guarantee the safety of women and their children.

As the Head of the Office of Protection of the Gender, Children and Morals (OPROGEM) Brigade at the Kaloum Police Commissariat in Conakry, Captain Sagno is doing her part. Through the Partners for Security in Guinea project, Sagno has partnered with civil society to inform women and youth of their legal rights and on how they can report violence against them to competent authorities, including the police. Her campaigning has led to higher number of reports filed as victims feel more empowered to go to the police.

Captain Sagno also serves as a Community Outreach Officer (or Policière Référente in French), a role that has taken her to many high school and university classrooms to educate students about the police. Her motto: Educate rather than punish.

She has also trained colleagues in the judicial police on conducting police searches or stops, handcuffing, and transporting suspects in ways that respect their human rights. Her training sessions have also included how to respectfully handle minors and peacefully manage protestors.

Captain Sagno looks forward to many more fruitful years serving her community, particularly women.

  October 14, 2020

Chief Police Commissioner Marie Gomez has a stellar 16-year career within the Guinean National Police. She has served as the officer in charge of law enforcement within the Judiciary Police, as the INTERPOL focal point on human trafficking, and with the police division in charge of science and technology. Over the years, she has completed training in Benin, Botswana, Burkina-Faso, Côte-d’Ivoire, Morocco, Rwanda, Togo, and Senegal.

She says her current position, however, is her most fulfilling. She serves as the Deputy Director of the Office of Protection of Gender, Children and Morals (known as its French acronym OPROGEM). In this role, she is serving some of the most vulnerable women and children in Guinea, which has been a lifelong dream of hers.

OPROGEM is tasked with combatting rape, child marriages, and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence. This is a complex and challenging mission in her native Guinea, which has the sixth highest percentage of child marriages in West and Central Africa with nearly 2 million child brides, according to United Nations Children’s Fund’s 2018 estimates. It is, however, a mission that Chief Police Commissioner Gomez fully embraces, having joined the police to serve and defend the most vulnerable. Even before enlisting in the police corps, Gomez worked with vulnerable populations. Upon retirement, she hopes to still work with women-centered civil society organizations.

Most of the police agents and officers that Gomez interacts with are men, and she says she would like to see more women join the police, particularly at the senior level. To reach this goal, Gomez supports the recruitment of women to join the police force so they can be the police leaders of tomorrow.

Chief Police Commissioner Gomez believes increasing the number of women police officers will help improve the community’s trust in the police since women enjoy the trust of many social groups. This would aid the police’s overall goal of increasing trust with the community as part of its community policing policy (locally known as Police de Proximité).

More importantly, she says that more women on the force will improve how the police addresses and works to eradicate gender-based violence.

In the future, Gomez says she looks forward to an opportunity to serve in an international peacekeeping mission and to promote women’s participation in the security sector globally, both of which would “pay it forward” in her words.