Manama: They are smart, ambitious and highly educated. They also have a growing sense about the role of literate women in confronting traditions and working on par with men to create a more positive reality for them.

They are women whose exceptional fortitude has brought vociferous female voices to male-dominated campaigns in the last five weeks.

Dr Jameela Al Sammak did it with extraordinary panache. In fact, she took the battle to a public ground and did not hesitate to tell the people about the relentless onslaught on her and on her team.

"When I announced my decision to run in the polls, I was subjected to tremendous pressure to withdraw my candidature for the sake of another candidate. I was told that by running in the elections, I was dispersing the votes in the constituency which, they claimed, was theirs," she said.

Jameela said that her critics should have understood that imposing choices on people was not condoned by religion Jameela insisted that her "crime" was that she was not a member of a large society.

"I have never opposed religious scholars. But when for instance they say that Al Wefaq is the Bloc of the Believers, does that make me an atheist?" she wondered.

"You are mentally retarded for opposing women's political rights," blurted a woman inside the overcrowded tent as she addressed one of Bahrain's best known preachers and newspaper columnists.

It takes exceptional audacity and daring nerve to utter such an accusation in the overcrowded tent of the candidate. Huda Al Mutawa has both and much more.

"Anyone who refuses the clauses of the constitution that guarantee the political rights of women is mentally retarded. This attitude annihilates my role as an educated woman," said Huda a few hours after she got engaged in a heated argument during a lecture at the tent of the candidate in her constituency Ebrahim Bu Sandal, a staunch opponent to active roles for women in politics.

"Bahrain is full of competent women. Why should women be confined to homes? We do not want to transform Bahrain into the Kingdom of Taliban," she said.

She is the perfect target for anyone who opposes the active participation of women in politics. She is Dr Muneera Fakhroo, the woman who had to endure tremendous moral pressure for years for her activism and calls for democracy in the 1990s.

The miasma against her includes hate messages, short texts calling for her boycott because she is a woman, newspaper reports claiming that she was a Communist and fiery statements from Islamists accusing her of criticising Islamic icons.

Lateefa Al Gaood made history by becoming the first woman to win in a public election in the Gulf.

But because she won unchallenged, sceptics preferred to speculate that her victory was orchestrated by the authorities who were keen on seeing women in the lower house of the bicameral parliament.

"I will be there for my people as I have pledged. I will even be wearing my traditional abaya when I am in the parliament," she says.

Her opponents did not leave any tactic to erode her confidence and sabotage her efforts: her rally tent was vandalised. Her posters were damaged. Her billboard ad was thrown onto the ground.

But television official Fawzia Zainal never gave in and showed strength of character that belied her looks. Few people thought that she would carry on with her campaign. She did even better. She took it to the heartland of the people she wanted to serve.