Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Arab Women and Media

Saudi Woman Journalist

Lebanese Journalist

Nowadays, Arab women are turning to media as a means for their empowerment, as a medium for education that overcomes barriers of distance and time, and as a tool to advance their progress and development in their communities. Whether in a niqab (face covering) and veil or not, conservative and moderate Arab/Muslim women have begun to turn to journalism and reporting as a career.

We have seen the extraordinary role of women reporters and journalists during the Arab revolutions (such as Mona El-Tahawy, Arwa Damon, Hala Gurani and Rula Amin to name a few). These women have proved to be as brave (an in many cases braver) than their male counterparts, and are paving the way for greater gender egalitarianism in the media.

CAWTAR (The Center of Arab Women for Training and Research) conducted a survey regarding women and the Arab media. The survey found the proportions of women in professional media dealing with political, national and international issues are 47.3% in Yemen, 36% in Jordan, 32% Tunisia and an measly 2.1% in the United Arab Emirates.

These results indicate that the majority of women in all the above mentioned Arab countries do NOT cover the more serious issues discussed in the media. That is not to say that a majority of Arab women have no interest in these issues, but rather that there are less opportunities for women to cover these issues.

Women should be equally represented in the media as they are half of the populations, and sometimes more. This is already beginning to happen, slowly but surely.

I would also like to highlight a women in media that I find is doing extraordinary work in Kuwait, a very conservative society. Dr. Fouzia Al-Durai' is a Kuwaiti women who has a call-in show on Al-Rai network that deals with love, sex and relationships. Dr. Fouzia aims to get rid of the stigma and shame surrounding those matters in a mature and open way. Dr. Fouzia is revolutionary in her public approach to such personal matters. Dr. Fouzia has a Twitter account: @Dr_Foz.

Arab women must take advantage of the media and utilize it to get their voices heard and shed light on women's issues that need awareness.

The time for Arab women is now!

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