Bahrain: Sheikha Lulwa Al-Khalifa

Now that I am in my 70s I find in serving women and children the motives that keep me fit and energetic. It was my secret formula that kept me going.

— Sheikha Lulwa Al-Khalifa

Sheikha Lulwa Al-Khalifa (born 1928) has been a wholehearted aficionado of broadening voluntary activities since her youth. The charitable organizations that she has helped to found serve underprivileged families and disabled children. They train and teach unfortunate women new skills so they can become economically productive and self-dependent. With a few Bahraini women she initiated The Mother and Child’s Welfare Society (MCWS) in 1960. The event marked the beginning of her organized voluntary participation in local communities of Bahrain and nearby regions.

Bahrain in the 1940s and the 1950s was a very pro-male, conservative society. Sheikha Lulwa Al-Khalifa recalls, "Married women’s roles in Bahrain were restrictedly perceived as those of bearing and raising children and looking after the house. They were not expected to participate in public, social and economic activities." Sheikha Lulwa felt that women’s development and economic and social status were truly paralyzed by such cultural restrictions, and her mother’s narratives of Egyptian women’s participation in charity in the 1940s had a tremendous impact on her motivation. "If women in Egypt can publicly advocate the noble cause of aiding less privileged women and children, so can we in Bahrain," she pointed out. So, Sheikha Lulwa began to work for the socio-cultural development of women and children in Bahrain. In the 1950s, she volunteered to launch a local hospital campaign to visit new mothers in their homes. During this stage of her life she witnessed the dire economical conditions of those disenfranchised women and children. After a decade of informal charity work she decided with a few women from Bahrain to collectively establish The Mother and Child’s Welfare Society (MCWS) in 1960. Sheikha Lulwa knew from the beginning that the mission to bring peace and security to the lives of these marginalized and less privileged female members of society meant that she had to convince both women and men of the need to change. Since then, thousands of women and children have benefited from MCWS. After a decade of dedicated informal charity work and intense face-to-face exposure to local community, the public felt the benefit of the personal sacrifices Lulwa has made in order to serve them.

The Mother and Child’s Welfare Society (MCWS) The Hope Institute for Handicapped Children Information Center for Women and Children