International Women’s Day is being observed around the world. For more than 100 years, March 8th has been a day to take note of the position of women in society and to celebrate their achiements.
RNW’s Arab department marks the day with portraits of 9 women from the Mena region who have made a difference to their societies.
Manal al-Sharif, Saudi Arabia
Manal al-Sharif is a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia who helped start a ‘women’s right to drive campaign’ in 2011. A women’s rights activist who had previously filmed herself driving , filmed al-Sharif driving a car as part of the campaign. Driving a car is forbidden for women in Saudi Arabia.
Samira Ibrahim, Egypt
Samira Ibrahim is the woman who put an end to virginity testing for female prisoners in Egypt. She filed a lawsuit against the government last year after being herself arrested and abused. Ibrahim won her case and the practice is now banned.
Shadia Mansour, Palestine/UK
Shadia is one of the few female Arab rappers. Known as the First Lady of Arab hip hop, much of her music tackles Middle East politics and Palestinian issues. “You can take my falafel and hummus, but don’t f***ing touch my keffiyeh,”
Zainah Al-Khawaja, Bahrain
Zainab al-Khawaja is a pro-democracy activist from Bahrain. She was recently sentenced o three months in prison for “insulting and humiliating a public employee.” Her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is a prominent opposition figure, currently serving life imprisonment for plotting to overthrow the state.