Your Middle East
Last updated: 8 March, 2014

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day. Here are the women of the Middle East.

A selection of some of our most important stories on women in the MENA region.

Why don’t men cover their faces?
One of our most read and discussed stories ever. Yemeni blogger and journalist @HindAleryani tells her intimate story about what’s feminine and masculine in the Middle East. 

Women’s brains may hold key to peace in Israel and Palestine
New studies in brain science reveal how women’s leadership can push conflicts, whether personal or political, from violent to diplomatic resolution.

Podcast: Talking to Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Mansour
Your Middle East’s Adam Hedengren had a conversation with Haifaa Mansour, celebrated director of Wadjda, about her film, gender relations and the change that is taking place in Saudi Arabia.

VIDEO: Saudi campaign + Bob Marley = “No woman, no drive”
The #women2drive campaign for women’s right to join the busy Saudi roads took a rather unusual turn last year with the humoristic rendition of a Bob Marley classic that went viral.

Creating an Egypt free of harassment
An anonymous reporting service may be part of the solution to restore public safety for women and change the environment of tolerance for harassers.

5 Arab businesswomen to keep an eye on
The UAE’s first female minister and a Kuwaiti bank CEO are two of the names on Bassam Aoun’s list.

TEDxBaghdad focuses on women
For Iraqi women, financial circumstances, religious and tribal rules, and social mores can be obstacles to fulfilling their dreams. At last week’s TEDxBaghdad, a group of exceptional Iraqi women shared stories of how they overcame their hurdles. 

Fighting discrimination, inspired by faith
Islamic feminists embrace their faith, culture and tradition while fiercely advocating for legislative reforms and interpretations that reflect a more modern understanding of women’s role in society.

Kurdish mothers fight for freedom at funerals of their children
While putting their children to rest, ululating mothers in Syria believe it is a duty during public funerals to celebrate because emotions keep up the morale of the Kurdish rebellion for autonomy. Don’t miss this video.

Saudi designer brings the turban back in style
25-year-old Saudi entrepreneur and fashion designer Rand AlBassam has an ambitious goal. She wants to revolutionise the hijab worn by many Muslim women — and bring back a piece of headgear neglected by the fashion world, the turban. 

MENA countries ignoring their women?
Women will keep facing security challenges in the MENA in the next few years until governments adopt more effective initiatives, writes Raya Abu Gulal.

Saudi ad against domestic violence
The ad is meant to define domestic violence in Saudi Arabia as being a social issue and divert attention from the government’s lack of laws that protect women, writes Mohamed Hemish about a new Saudi campaign on domestic violence.

Emirati women entrepreneurs need to think bigger
All over the world, female entrepreneurs are contributing to their societies and seizing business opportunities by starting up their own enterprises. Emirati women are increasingly doing the same, with some 20,000 companies owned by 13,000 women.

Morocco’s pioneering woman executive changes the game
Named one of the 25 most powerful women in Africa, Moroccan businesswoman Nezha Hayat is an avowed campaigner for the place of women in business. We spoke to her.

Writing women’s history in Turkey
We know that women have always been an easy target for politicians around the world. But there is no other country like Erdogan’s “New Turkey” where the political agenda is constantly shaped by discussions around the female body.

The first Saudi woman who….
Recently, we have seen the media full with messages about Saudi women breaking boundaries. What does this mean?

There is still hope for Arab Feminism
As the patriarchy remains strong in the Middle East, and with little grassroots activism to speak of, women’s rights seem to spiral downwards, warns Cynthia Kreichati. Yet, she is hopeful and now looks back to the feminists of the early 20th century for inspiration.

The story of Algeria’s traditional tattoos (PICTURES)
A fading tradition, now only carried by the elder generation of women in the Aurès Mountains district, Yasmin Bendaas visited the region to search for the meaning behind the ancient Algerian tattoo ritual.

Iran’s fashion-forward women have it “right”
“As an Iranian-American, I stand slightly awkwardly. I am vacationing in the lives of everyday Iranian women who live in a country that is falling behind the curve of women’s rights every day.”

Yes, Arab women marry later these days
By using the groundbreaking graphs of Gapminder, we are able to clearly illustrate and explain transformations in the modern Arab family.