are vital in this campaign’: Mariah Idrissi travelled to Niger with Islamic
Relief. Photograph: Islamic Relief
Is the Limit,’ Says Aisha Al-Mansouri, The UAE’s First Female A380 Pilot
Call Centre Gets Hundreds of Hate Calls for Promoting Hijabs on Billboard
Bendali: The Muslim Dane Fighting Against Islamophobia
Gives Great Importance to Women’s Rights: President Alvi
Youth to Tie the Knot with Sialkot Girl amid Indo-Pakistan Tension
Wafa Bani Mustafa Delivers A First For Jordanian Women
Khan 'Reaffirms Commitment' To Ensuring a Secure, Enabling Environment for
Angel Giving Cast-Out Muslim Women with AIDS Hope for a Normal Life
Tadawul’s Female Chairperson Rings the Bell for Women Empowerment
to Grant Jailed UK-Iranian Mother ‘Diplomatic Protection’
Ambassador to US Princess Reema Hailed As ‘Inspiring Figure’ For Female
Female Success Is Paving the Way for a More Progressive Saudi Arabia
the Pakistani Women Who Say the Burqa Helps Them Be Better Journalists
Unions Call for Protests Ahead of Women’s Day
Women Winning Seats in World Parliaments
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Marriage in Niger Is a Cultural Issue, Not An Islamic One
for me, is a way of life and the core of my world. As a Muslim woman I have
always been encouraged to be who I want to be.
get frustrated when people say: “Why do you wear a hijab? Isn’t that a sign of
women’s oppression?” I choose to wear a hijab; I choose to be an educated and
liberated woman and I choose to follow Islam.
states that a woman’s purpose for existence is not to serve any other human
beings or be subjugated by any other person.
recently visited Niger, where up to 98% of the population is Muslim. The
country also has the world’s highest child marriage rate, with three out of
four girls married before the age of 18. Key drivers for this are poverty,
local customs, tradition and lack of education.
is the fifth poorest country in the world, and I saw for myself acute signs of
poverty. I spoke to families who told me how they gave up their daughters for
early marriage because they were struggling to feed or protect them, let alone
send them to school. Girls suffer more than boys. Only 15% of women in Niger
aged 15 to 24 are literate, compared with 30% of men.
Loga, 140km east of the capital Niamey, I met Mariama*, who was given up for
marriage at the age of 12. Traumatised, she escaped on the night of her wedding
and fled to the house of Maimouna Djibrila, a volunteer working with Islamic
Relief. She of all people understood what Mariama was going through. She too
had been given away for early marriage to a cousin, and had a very difficult
worked with several organisations, Mariama’s school, the police and both
families to get the marriage annulled. Unfortunately, two years later (a month
before our visit), her father was trying to marry off Mariama again.
and forced marriage is a contentious subject in Niger. The country has signed
up to international treaties that set a minimum age of marriage of 18. However,
the legal age of marriage is 15 for girls and 18 for boys. There have been
ongoing discussions in parliament to make sure that the national law respects
the international treaties, but this has not yet happened.
if the law changes, it is unlikely that child marriage will stop overnight. It
is entrenched in the culture in Niger. I want to be clear on this: this is not
an Islamic issue, but a cultural issue.
any change to happen, it has to happen at community level. Islamic Relief is
training community and faith leaders, such as Imams and village chiefs, about
the importance of women’s rights and child protection.
are vital in this campaign. I witnessed imams preaching about the rights of
women and children in their Friday sermons, known as khutbas. They pointed out
that the Qur’an states it is not lawful for men to inherit their wives by
force, or for parents to let their children be harmed in any way. And how a
successful marriage according to Islam promotes love, tranquillity and mercy
between husbands and wives.
latter is particularly important, given the high levels of domestic violence in
the country. An estimated 15.6% of women experience some form of sexual
violence or harassment.
met Adama in Loga, who was raped by an extended family member when she was 15
and then ostracised by her family for giving birth to his child outside
marriage. She was kicked out of the house while pregnant. Maimouna convinced
Adama’s mother to help her, and now she too is being ostracised by the family.
It was heartbreaking listening to Adama. She told me that she has been reduced
to begging for food and is insulted every day. I could see the pain in her eyes
as she recounted her story.
infuriated me to see Adama treated in this way, and to see so many young girls
being forced into early marriage. Allah commands us to protect the honour of
women, and the Qu’ran clearly states that violence against women and girls, in
any shape or form, is not acceptable. It is not acceptable in the UK; it is not
acceptable in Niger.
story and many others I heard in Niger have fired me up in support of Islamic
Relief’s #HonourHer campaign, which is working towards a global Islamic
declaration of gender justice – a call to action against gender inequality from
an Islamic faith perspective – to be launched later this year. I will use my
voice to play an active part in this.
As the UAE’s first female pilot of an A380, Aisha Al-Mansouri knows a thing or
two about breaking glass ceilings.
was just one of two female cadets when Etihad Airways first opened its training
program in 2007 — and seven years later made history as the first Emirati woman
to take to the cockpit of the world’s largest passenger airliner.
International Women’s Day is marked across the globe, Al-Mansouri, a first
officer for the UAE’s national airline, said the day should be a marker for
young girls across the region of how far women in the Middle East have come.
opportunities are growing and growing, especially in the region. The sky is the
once aviation was a traditionally male-dominated profession in the Middle East,
Al-Mansouri believes there are more opportunities for women, just as there are
in any career.
think governments (in the region) have come to believe that women are vital for
the development of society — in all sectors, in all different roles.”
career in aviation began by visiting an air show in Al Ain when she was 17.
“They had an Etihad stand there and were talking about opening the cadet
program and (I was) told if I was interested I should apply — and I did.”
joining the cadet program, Al-Mansouri had considered many traditional roles
such as a doctor or teacher. The Emirati admitted she never thought about being
a pilot, despite watching her brother Ali earn his flying credentials and join
Abu Dhabi Police, and her sister, Maj. Mariam Al-Mansouri, become the UAE’s
first female fighter pilot.
Al-Mansouri began the inaugural cycle of Etihad’s cadet program in 2007, she
was one of just two women among 450 trainee pilots. “It was bit overwhelming, I
had come from an all-girls school and then I had moved to this flight school to
train alongside hundreds of men, but I think the way the management ran the
program meant I felt at ease quickly.”
graduating, Al-Mansouri worked as a second officer on the A320, before
graduating to the A330 as a first officer. It was then she made her bid to fly
on the A380. “My name was among a long list of candidates, so when my name was
selected, I was so excited.”
inaugural flight on the Airbus was from Abu Dhabi to London in February 2014.
“When we were doing our training (for the A380) we had never actually seen the
aircraft; we had only been in the flights’ simulator. The cockpit size really
doesn’t change when it comes to the real thing, but when I walked into the
aircraft for the first time, I was like ‘Wow, this is big.” And the number of
props and tubes and buttons you have to check — and the size of the plane — it
was like flying a building.”
has since racked up countless flights to long-haul destinations. “I still love
it, every single time,” she said.
what is next for the high-flying Emirati? As senior first officer she is
second-in-command to the captain, a role she hopes to achieve within the next
four years. And she would one day like to use her master’s degree, which she
obtained last year in airline operation management. “It opened my eyes to the importance of
strategic planning,” she said.
starting a campaign to raise awareness about hijabs and why women wear them, an
Islamic call center has become inundated with hate-filled, Islamophobic calls.
Islamic Center of North America’s Dallas, Texas branch (INCA) and sister
organization GainPeace say their hotline has been receiving over 200 hate calls
per week since putting up the billboard on I-35, a highway in the area.
ad, which features an Islamic woman in a hijab along with the caption, “Hijab:
the dress of modesty,” and the phrases “respect, honor, strength,” has a
hotline number at the bottom to encourage passers by to call with questions.
of the first 200 calls the call center received after the ad was put up, 180
were hate calls, Dr. Sabeel Ahmed, director of the GainPeace call center and a
representative of INCA Dallas, told The Post.
of the hotline operators told Ahmed this week, “I have never been abused the
way I’m getting abused now.”
operator’s experience has been far from unique since the billboard went up.
told The Post that the number of callers reaching out to bully and harass them
has only grown — now to well over 200 calls per week.
from callers have ranged from calling operators “terrorists,” to yelling at
them to “go home.” Ahmed says many have scolded hotline operators by raving
that, “this is a Christian country,” and their organization cannot turn the US
into a Muslim nation.
callers have compared the woman wearing the hijab on the billboard to
Muslim-American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and claimed that the resemblance
showed why all Muslims supported anti-Semitism. Omar has recently faced
controversy for tweets that were viewed by many as anti-Semitic.
has since apologized, but has maintained that her criticisms of the current
Israeli government is valid.
Dallas billboard has had a far worse reaction than any of the organizations
previous ads, according to Ahmed.
put up the same billboard in Chicago before the Dallas branch followed suit,
and the reaction was far less negative. The same ad was also put on a billboard
in Houston at the same time as in Dallas, but the INCA branch there has
received far less hate.
called the reaction “heartbreaking,” adding that he and the organizations
didn’t exist to impose their beliefs. “There are so many misconceptions out
there, so we feel we are here to educate. We want to get rid of the fear of the
unknown. When people get to know what Islam is and what we believe in, people
realize there isn’t that much that’s different between us.”
Bendali was leaving her workplace one evening when she saw the Danish People's
Party's new campaign.
leader of the far-right party had been putting up placards around Copenhagen,
reading: "Take off your veil. Join Danish society."
Muslim woman who chooses to wear the veil, Bendali decided to express her
outrage online in a video that was viewed 350,000 times.
is a midwife, mother of five, and divorced.
decided to enter politics a few years ago to underpin the voice of Muslims in
feel the discrimination more and more," said Bendali. "Muslim women
are being yelled at for wearing a veil."
2015 and the establishment of a government coalition with the far right,
parties across the political spectrum in Denmark have shifted right, leading to
a worrying rise in anti-Muslim and anti-migrant sentiment.
government introduced a law to seize items of migrants coming into the country
in 2016, a few months after they had taken adverts in Lebanese papers promoting
their benefits cuts to migrants.
established stricter criminal laws for people living in so-called
"ghettos" - poorer districts in Denmark, and imposed Danish classes
on children there, in which they were taught Danish "values".
government also voted to send rejected asylum seekers to a deserted island off
the coast of Denmark.
imposed a nationwide veil ban last year and a string of local laws stopping the
construction of mosques, forced school canteens to serve pork and restricted
Muslim women from using public baths, all of which have turned the country into
one of the most inhospitable for migrants.
despite this rising trend, a few women, including Noura Bendali, have decided
to join politics and speak up for tolerance and inclusion, appearing on TV,
Facebook, shows and around their neighbourhoods to promote an open society and
fight back against the wave of Islamophobia that has gripped the country.
who was born in Morocco to a wealthy restaurant-owner in Fez, moved to Denmark
in the 1970s when its need for foreign workers made it attractive for families
to try out their luck in the Nordic country.
in a French school with diplomats' children, she studied midwifery and became
the first midwife to wear a veil in a Copenhagen hospital in 2000.
worked as a midwife since.
party is called the "National Party" to highlight its embrace of all
are born equal. I want that respect back," said Bendali.
five percent of Denmark's population is Muslim and the mood in the country has
changed in recent years.
against Muslims has risen, according to a study by the Turkish think-tank SETA.
have also been instances of women attacked for wearing veils, people trying to
tear them off.
Bashy Quraishy, a local activist and ex-chair of the European anti-racism
association, ENAR, Islamophobia has become ubiquitous.
democratic society, once the leading voice in Europe against apartheid, over 50
years has become one of the most anti-minority, anti-Islam countries in
Europe," said Quraishy.
have become increasingly antagonised by stories in the press and politics that
portray Muslims in a negative light.
are stuck in a populist narrative," he said.
women like Bendali have been trying to change that narrative.
year, she faced off Integration Minister Inger Stojberg during a national
debate on her proposal to ban Muslim people from working during Ramadan, saying
their fasting and working at the same time constituted a risk to society.
told her that she had worked her whole life and doing Ramadan never bothered
do everything that all Danes do. I'm not dangerous," she said.
she has received death threats, with people telling her she's a
"terrorist" and threatening her children.
was recently interviewed by Ellie Jokar, a Muslim Iranian-born comedian and
show involves her taking people on a ride in her pink taxi car and discussing
politics. Her interview with Bendali received over 9,000 views on YouTube.
used to be a safe place," said Jokar, "now, I get treated
said she had felt this anger against her after 9-11 but since the new
government coalition, it has become worse.
Danes, I'm not Danish enough because I'm brown," she said, "even
though I'm considered by others to be a 'good immigrant'."
Bendali, the issue of racism became visceral when her 12-year-old daughter came
back crying from handball practice.
made contact with a player on the field, the other child's mother called her a
"fat black pig".
insulting my daughters on the street," said Bendali. "When I was a
kid I never felt this hatred, this racism that you can feel today in Denmark.
want my kids to feel like this is their country too."
Underscoring the need for social protection to women in the society, President
Arif Alvi said that Islam gave great importance to women’s right.
a seminar, in connection with awareness campaign against harassment, President
Arif Alvi lauded the role of women in strengthening democracy in the country.
said that our religion gave respect and special place to women in the society
and added that Islam also gave inheriting rights to women.
president said that a society could not be called an Islamic society until it
did not ensure women’s right. He said unfortunately the woman had not equal
rights to the man in our society.
the Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, on October 12, had
said the government would soon launch a campaign to provide women free legal
aid regarding inheritance.Oct12
have already started awareness drive regarding the women’s right to inheritance
and launching another drive to provide free legal aid soon,” she said while
talking to Swedish Ambassador for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law
Annika Ben David and Ambassador of Sweden Ingrid Johansson who called on her
here in Islamabad.
a time when tension between the neighbouring countries has escalated in the
wake of airstrikes on a terror launch pad across the border, a 33-year-old man
from Haryana is all set to tie the knot with a woman from Sialkot in Pakistan.
marriage between Parvinder Singh, a telecom contractor and resident of Tepla
village in Ambala, will be solemnised by the end of this week at a gurdwara in
Patiala as per Sikh tradition with Kiran Sarjeet (27) who along with her family
reached India via Samjhauta Express on Thursday.
two got engaged in 2016 when Sarjeet visited her maternal uncle’s house at
Samana in Patiala.
who is the youngest of three siblings, said he had known Sarjeet for long since
she is a distant relative of his aunt (wife of father’s younger brother). Her
family had stayed back in Sialkot during Partition in 1947, he says.
first saw her in 2014 when she was visiting India. Two years later, when I
expressed interest in her, both she and her family agreed. We got engaged in a
simple ceremony. Sarjeet, who is the eldest of five siblings, has done master’s
in English and is a teacher there. I hope she will be happy here after
marriage,” he said.
says he was twice sponsored by Sarjeet’s family for the Pakistan visa, but he
didn’t get one.
have got visa for 45 days for Patiala and I will try to get it extended it by
submitting a request to the authorities after the wedding. I will try to get
her visa for Ambala so that she can stay with me or I will have to rent a house
in Patiala,” Parvinder said.
family was to board Samjhauta Express last week, but they could not as the
train was cancelled due to the rising tensions. Now, they boarded the train
today (Thursday) and reached Delhi from where they will come to Patiala,” he
exact date of marriage is not finalised, but it is likely to take place on
Saturday,” he added.
When Wafa Bani Mustafa, right, decided to run for Jordan’s Parliament in 2010,
using the newly created women’s quota, few believed she could win. The
mother-of-two faced resistance both in her village Suf and the Jerash district.
ran for office at age 31, the minimum age allowed to run for Parliament,” she
told Arab News.
Bani Mustafa had a clear idea of her campaign platform from the outset. “I
decided to focus on the needs of working mothers,” she said. Not only did the
lawyer overcome the odds to emerge victorious, she has since run for Parliament
twice and won.
it would take Bani Mustafa three parliamentary terms before she was able, along
with others, to introduce and pass legislation that advances the rights of
difficulties that women in Jordan encounter daily are not limited to the
workplace. The House of Representatives was a microcosm of the country’s
conservative, male-dominated society. “When I ran for the leadership of a
parliamentary bloc in 2011, I was criticized by some of my male colleagues,”
Bani Mustafa is Jordan’s leading female parliamentarian, having served on the
board of the National Council on Human Rights and campaigned for a change in
the law that stops Jordanian women passing on their citizenship to their
of all Bani Mustafa’s achievements, the one that gives her greatest satisfaction
is her successful campaign to overturn a Jordanian law that allowed rapists to
escape punishment if they married their victims. “It is the change of Article
308 that left a mark,” she said.
to form, Bani Mustafa has not restricted her advocacy of women’s rights to the
relatively limited ambit of Jordan. She has headed the committee of the
pan-Arab Women’s Parliamentary Commission dedicated to combating domestic
am a feminist and I believe in feminism and want more women to fight for feminist
issues, but I also have opinions and ideas about all of society,” she said.
need to work a lot on our culture and society, as they have in Tunisia. Most of
the rest of the Arab world is still struggling in this area.”
Minister Imran Khan in his message on International Women’s Day, being
celebrated across the globe on Friday, reaffirmed his government's commitment
to providing women a safe environment so that they could contribute to the
reaffirm our commitment to ensuring women a secure and enabling environment to
play their rightful role in our nation's development," said the prime
also paid tribute to Fatima Jinnah "who stood steadfastly beside the Quaid
in his struggle for Pakistan".
second ‘Aurat March’ will be held today in Karachi, Lahore, Multan and other
cities to mark International Women’s Day, which is celebrated by the global
community every year on March 8.
Senator Sherry Rehman, referring to the march, called to attention a number of
issues women face, saying: "I march because women don’t get the same pay
or opportunities as men. Because I’m done keeping quiet about sexist jokes,
about snide remarks and an unspoken collusion to keep women out of
decision-making. I march for my less fortunate sisters who suffer daily
another tweet, she said: "I march because I don’t accept violence against
women. I march against harassment at the workplace. I march because public
spaces are domains where I too have the right to have my voice heard. I march
because we still have a long way to go."
Minister Asad Umar also shared a message on Women's Day: "Pakistan cannot
be the prosperous and peaceful country we want it to be unless women, who are
more than half the country, are given the chance to live their lives to their
JAYA: Becoming infected with HIV/AIDS is bad enough for any woman, but to then
be cast out by her own family seems like the end of the world.
ostracised by her community is especially tragic for the many women who are
innocent victims, having been infected by promiscuous or closet bisexual
there is one compassionate woman, Fadzilah Abdul Hamid, better known as Matron
Fadzilah, who can offer a temporary home and some tough love to these rejected
women and children.
20 years ago, she and fellow senior officers at the health ministry started a
care home under the Islamic Medical Association Malaysia.
late 90s saw increased numbers of women and children infected with HIV, so such
a facility was desperately needed.
it started, Solehah House has helped nearly 400 victims, 50 of whom were
children as young as 20 days old.
Fadzilah’s care home gets referrals from all over Malaysia.
veteran nurse, she said all women with HIV/AIDS face stigma from their own
families and community but particularly Muslim women.
come to us because they have been rejected. When they arrive, their self-esteem
is shattered. We rebuild their confidence, and then tend to their physical
problems such as skin lesions.”
runs the treatment and counselling programme, integrated with Islamic teachings
and values, which can last from three months to two years depending on the
programme includes working with the women to identify their interests and
capabilities and develop their potential so they will be able to earn a living
when they return to their communities.
also teaches them health basics, like how to stay clean in order to prevent
transmission of the virus.
the past five years, there has been a decline in the number of women actually
living in the home, she said. The majority of those who come for help are now
attributes this to an improvement in public awareness, saying most are now able
to stay with their own families who are more accepting.
others with families who are not as up-to-date about how the virus is
transmitted are not as lucky.
families still fear HIV, even though it is just like any other infection. It
cannot spread very easily.”
the past six years, the home has been receiving funding from the Selangor
Islamic Religious Council, which also funds a number of other HIV/AIDS
believes this is a sign that the Muslim community is becoming more open.
Quran teaches us that God is most forgiving, especially for those who have
repented,” said Matron Fadzilah.
a home is not easy, as staff and funds are usually lacking.
Fadzilah said it is difficult to find new staff, as few are dedicated enough to
undergo the strenuous tasks involved in looking after and counselling AIDS
patients. Many also worry about becoming infected themselves.
cannot retain our staff, especially the younger ones. They are not that
interested in staying with us because they have their own lives outside,” she
there are virtually no full-time staff, but regular volunteers. They also train
former patients to return and work at the home.
days, despite people becoming more aware of the disease, more people are
actually contracting HIV.
Fadzilah worries that now most HIV cases are due to casual and unhealthy sexual
said many people are well aware of the consequences of unprotected sex, but
practise it anyway.
is a problem for the nation,” she said.
the angel of Solehah House is there to do what she can.
celebration of International Women’s Day, the Saudi Stock Exchange, Tadawul,
along with 80 financial markets around the world, participated in ringing the
opening bell is rung on the trading floor to signify the start of the day’s
ringing of the bell by Sarah al-Suhaimi, the first woman to be the chairperson
of Tadawul, symbolized a ring for women empowerment.
ceremony also included the signing of an agreement on the principles of
empowering women, reflecting the trend of encouraging more women to participate
in the Saudi economy.
say that al-Suhaimi’s appointment as chairperson is a step that breaks the
male-dominated upper echelons in the finance sector.
representation of women on corporate boards continues to increase but the
number of women leading boards remains low globally, according to Deloitte
women now hold 12 percent of seats worldwide with only four percent chairing
selection of al-Suhaimi to lead the Kingdom’s $533 billion stock market
underscores the Kingdom’s incessant pursuit to empower women.
is the largest stock exchange in the region and the 21st internationally,
according to the World Federation of Exchange.
joining the National Commercial Bank as CEO, al-Suhaimi was the chief
investment officer at Jadwa Investment and a senior portfolio manager at Samba
September 2013, the Harvard graduate was appointed, along with 16 others, as a
member of the stock exchange’s consultancy committee.
said Thursday that it will grant “diplomatic protection” to Nazanin
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a UK-Iranian dual citizen jailed in Tehran since 2016,
citing a lack of due process and access to medical treatment.
have today decided that the UK will take a step that is extremely unusual and
exercise diplomatic protection,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a
represents formal recognition by the British government that her treatment
fails to meet Iran’s obligations under international law and elevates it to a
formal state to state issue,” Hunt added.
protection is a rarely-used mechanism allowing nations to seek protection on
behalf of its citizens on the grounds that they have been wronged by another
state, according to Britain’s foreign office.
said he had “not taken this decision lightly” but considered the “unacceptable
treatment” Zaghari-Ratcliffe had experienced during her three years in
have not even been able to secure her the medical treatment she urgently needs
despite assurances to the contrary,” he added.
has suffered from health issues, including undergoing tests for breast cancer
and a series of panic attacks, while her emotional state has worsened during
project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the media group’s philanthropic
arm, said she was arrested in April 2016 as she was leaving Iran after taking
her infant daughter to visit her family.
was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2016 for alleged sedition.
the Thomson Reuters Foundation, and the British government have consistently
denied the charges against her.
said his decision Thursday was “an important diplomatic step” signaling to
Tehran that “its behavior is totally wrong”.
he conceded that it was “unlikely to be a magic wand that leads to an overnight
result” and repeated calls for her release.
know there are many in Iran who understand the unjustness of this situation. No
government should use innocent individuals as pawns for diplomatic leverage so
I call on Iran to release this innocent woman so she can be reunited with her
family,” he said.
husband Richard has been lobbying Hunt and the previous foreign secretary Boris
Johnson for diplomatic protection for his wife since 2017.
Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan made history last month, becoming the
first Saudi woman to be made an ambassador.
she was named Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in the US, Ridwaan Jadwat,
Australia’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, called her appointment “an important milestone,”
and wished her a happy and successful posting.
recognized global figure, Princess Reema has spoken publicly about the
inclusion of women in the Saudi workforce, describing the liberalization under
way as “evolution, not Westernization.”
has said, though, that the Kingdom’s efforts to allow women to drive or attend
football games are only “quick wins.” More professional opportunities need to
be created, and problems such as domestic violence, she believes, demand
Reema spent several years in the US during her youth when her father, Prince
Bandar bin Sultan, was also Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the country. She
bachelor’s degree in museum studies from George Washington University.
returning to the Kingdom in 2005, and spending time as the CEO of Harvey
Nichols in Riyadh, the princess launched a handbag brand in 2013, before
founding a private equity fund and a women’s day spa. She is a member of the
World Bank’s Advisory Council for its Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative,
is vice president of women’s affairs at the General Sports Authority, and is a
founding member of the Zahra Breast Cancer Association in Riyadh. In August
2018 she was also appointed to the International Olympic Committee.
to Arab News last month, Dominique Mineur, Belgium’s ambassador to Riyadh, said
the appointment of Princess Reema demonstrated the Kingdom’s resolve to give
more prominent roles to women.
course, she is an inspiring figure and has been supporting women in so many
fields, such as sports, health, work and financial independence,” Mineur said.
“It’s a logical appointment considering the role she has played.”
A seminar was held in Riyadh on Thursday, the day before International Women’s
Day. The event was organized by the Human Rights Council in collaboration with
the UN office in Saudi Arabia.
of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030’s goals is to empower women in all fields. Within
a span of just two years, the Kingdom, under the leadership of King Salman and
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has undergone massive changes, resulting in a
sharp elevation in women’s status, level of participation in the workforce and
contribution to the national economy.
number of women whose achievements have paved the way for a more progressive
Saudi Arabia took part in the seminar’s first session. They spoke about their
lives, their struggles and their successes. They described their stories as a
long journey involving hardship and challenges but which was definitely worth
the second session, King Saud University’s Vice Dean for Student Affairs Dr.
Enas Al-Issa addressed the topic, “Empowerment of Saudi Women in Education from
Growth to Competition.” Her talk focused on the objectives of Vision 2030 in
the context of women’s education and increasing women’s participation in the
labor market. She pointed out the existence of 31 programs that require the
participation of women which affect the Kingdom’s ranking on the Global
during the third session, Dr. Thoraya Obaid, a pioneer in her own right and an
inspiration to a generation of both genders, said: “I am the child of the
pre-oil area. I am a dinosaur between all these young ladies. My story is that
of my country’s transformation. My childhood was built on my father’s vision.
He had the power to allow me to continue my studies and he did.”
was the first Saudi woman to study in the US, having been sent there by King
Faisal at a very young age. She said five men supported her in making her
life’s “remarkable journey;” her father, King Faisal, Prince Saud Al-Faisal,
Kofi Annan and her husband.
spoke about the importance of men and women being partners and supporters of
each other, and of the need to recognize women as the “pillar” of the family
everywhere in the world.
am from the sunset generation and you, young ladies, are the sunrise
generation,” she said, pointing to the younger members of the panel. “There
must be dialogue between us, so you can learn from our experiences.”
Al-Maeena, a Shoura Council member, Mount Everest climber and sports
enthusiast, spoke of the valuable lessons that can be learned from the life
stories of others. “It was a challenge, a big challenge,” she told the
audience. “But I view progress as part of the long arc of history. Women did
get their rights around the world but it took time. These experiences taught me
a valuable lesson — that it takes time.
said what got her interested in sports was her post-natal depression. Once she
had formed the Basketball United Jeddah team, there was no looking back. “What
has taken place in the last two years is unprecedented in Saudi Arabia, whether
sports in schools, women entering football stadium ... It’s a miracle.”
Amal Al-Maalami, a member of the Human Rights Council, spoke on the topic of
“Women in the Vision of the Kingdom 2030.” She said that she dreamed of
becoming a journalist so she could have a hand in preparing the first draft of
history. “There is no shortage of remarkable Saudi women in our history,” she
her part, “ethical hacker” Dr. Moudhi Al-Jamea, general manager of the STC
Academy, said the world took a new turn with the advent of cybersecurity. “We
live in an era where both genders are empowered,” she said, adding that there
was not one negative comment on social media when her appointment was announced.
Arabia was one of the first countries to appreciate the importance of
cybersecurity by creating a dedicated cybersecurity authority. The future of
Saudi women in cybersecurity looks bright, especially with STC conducting
courses and training programs for anyone interested in the subject, Al-Jamea
to Arab News, Dr. Fatima Al-Hamlan, virologist at King Faisal Hospital, said:
“This year was a shortcut compared with the past years of struggle. Women have
made strides in many fields in a short time. This has raised our expectations.
Now, we will not accept anything. We want more and consider it our right.
Skilled Saudi women are available. Saudi women proficient in different skills
will receive a high position. We are neither a number to fill nor a quota to
reach. We are efficient and hardworking women who will do our country proud and
serve in its various fields. Today, we are leading in various fields while the
world is struggling.”
during the opening ceremony, Dr. Bandar Al-Aiban, president of the Saudi Arabia
Human Rights Commission, said the Kingdom is continuing on its path of
empowering women and enhancing their participation in development.
said the protection and empowerment of women’s rights is one of the most important
areas of reform and development.
said Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reforms plan sees women as important and active
partners. He said that the plan was being implemented through national programs
and initiatives, which are raising the ceiling for women’s ambitions and
participation in development as is evident from the progress already made in
ISMAIL KHAN: Sabeha Sheikh was not thinking about her headscarf or burqa as she
sat through a journalism workshop at Gomal University in the northwestern
Pakistani town of Dera Ismail Khan in April last year.
a remark from the teacher, that girls in burqas could not be good journalists,
led her to question how she could use her veil — considered by many in the West
as a sign of oppression — to her advantage in the deeply conservative society
to which she belonged.
was at that moment I decided that not only will I be a good journalist, I will
set up a platform for those girls who wear the burqa and also want to become
professional journalists,” Sheikh, 24, told Arab News.
May 2018, she formed Burka Journalists with her friend and fellow journalism
graduate Sameera Latif. The idea was to provide women who wore conservative
Muslim dress, from black chadors to bright silk scarves, a space where they
could be both free to follow their religious and cultural norms, and their
dreams of being journalists.
northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bordering Afghanistan, is a socially
conservative region whose women have suffered repression for decades. Women of
the area mostly leave their homes in full-length shrouds covering the face.
Rights groups say hundreds of women and girls are killed in the province each
year by family members angered at perceived damage to their “honor,” which
involves anything from “fraternizing” with men to eloping.
the years, the Pakistani Taliban and allied Islamist militants, who regard
female education as anti-Islamic, have destroyed hundreds of schools for young
women. It was also in this region that in 2012 the Taliban shot and critically
wounded Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.
Sheikh and Latif want to highlight the problems faced by the women of Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa — both from behind their cameras and their burqas, which they say
give them the “confidence and sense of ease” to take up a male-dominated
profession in a very tough region.
feel comfortable working in burqas — that’s why we decided to promote this
trend in the media,” Latif, 22, said. “A lot of girls here wear burqas, but
that should not stop them from coming forward and becoming reporters.”
its Facebook page, the Burka Journalists group has covered issues as diverse as
protests by women against power outages and sanitation problems to the case of
a 16-year-old girl who was paraded, half-naked, through her village to redeem
family honor. Though it only has around 5,000 followers, the page is gaining
Journalists is becoming a good source of news, especially on social problems,”
Maryum Akbar, a university student, said. She added that the group was
important for covering women’s issues because they found it easier to talk to
other women, rather than male reporters.
Wasim Akbar Sheikh, chairman of the department of journalism and mass
communication at Gomal University, believes that unless government funding is
forthcoming, endeavors such as this will not last. “The tragic thing is that
these journalists have neither revenue nor any government support,” he said.
too, said that in order to expand the project, attract more women, gain further
training and be able to cover a wider range of stories, the group needed
now, we are spending money from our own pocket to provide this launchpad for
newcomers. We invite all burqa-clad women to come to us for training and work,
but we also need some government support.”
An umbrella of Sudanese independent professional unions has called for more
protest ahead of the International Women’s Day to demand the ouster of
President Omar Al-Bashir.
demonstrators on Thursday took to the streets in the capital, Khartoum, and
elsewhere in the country.
posted online shows dozens of people marching, mostly women, and chanting,
“Freedom, dignity and justice.”
some videos, security forces are seen arrested people and beating them in the
backs of pick-up trucks.
protest was called by the Sudanese Professionals Association that’s been
spearheading the demonstrations, which erupted in December, initially over
surging prices and a failing economy, but quickly turned into calls for
say hundreds of women have been detained or subjected to violence by security
Inter-Parliamentary Union finds more women around the world are winning seats
in their national parliaments, with the best gains being made in countries that
have well-designed quota systems.
report finds women’s representation in national parliaments rose by nearly 1
percentage point last year to 24.3 percent. This may seem a modest increase,
but this figure indicates an ongoing upward trend of women’s participation in
politics since the 1995 World Women’s Conference in Beijing. At that time, only
11 percent of women were in parliament. Their share has now more than doubled.
Secretary-General Martin Chungong says he also is heartened by the greater
diversity in the makeup of women’s representation in parliament.
are seeing more women of native origin," he said. "We are seeing more
women of color coming into parliaments around the world. And if we take the
United States, for instance, we saw a noticeable improvement in parliamentary
diversity, with Native Americans making inroads into parliament, women of color
increasing their share of parliamentary representation. And we even see the
entry into parliament of two Muslim women.”
notes the United States shot up in the global rankings of women
parliamentarians from 137th position in 2017 to 79th place last year. The
survey finds women now occupy about one-quarter of all seats in both houses of
in previous years, Rwanda continues to hold the top spot in the rankings with
more than 61 percent of women parliamentarians. Two other African countries,
Namibia and South Africa, are in the top 10.
IPU finds 65th-ranked Djibouti made the most dramatic gains regionally and
globally among lower and single chambers. It says the share of women in
parliament rose from nearly 11 percent to more than 26 percent.
report says the Americas continue to lead all regions in terms of the average
share of women in parliament with 30.6 percent. This contrasts with the Middle
East and North Africa, with the lowest regional average of slightly more than
18 percent female parliamentarians.
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