MENA Women's News Brief

Jul 29, 2014

The Middle East Program will send out the latest developments on women’s issues in the region on a bi-monthly basis.


July 16: Nine women in fray for key polls

“Nine Bahraini women have confirmed their candidacy for the upcoming parliament and municipal council elections.” (Gulf Daily News)


July 16: Egypt court jails seven for life over sexual assaults

“A court in Egypt has sentenced seven men to life in prison and two others to 20 years for sexual assaulting women last month.” (BBC)

July 16: ‘As if I brought it on myself’

“The Cairo-based non-profit “BuSSy” raises awareness about the challenges Egyptian women face by transforming real-life experiences into dramatic monologues. It launched a new blog dedicated to chronicling women’s experiences with sexual harassment and gender issues in Egypt.” (Daily News Egypt)

July 18: TV anchor raises women’s issues in presidential bid

“Famed TV anchor Bouthina Kamel is having a second shot at Egypt’s top post, two years after a failed presidential bid. Kamel, 52, known for her anti-corruption crusade, says her fresh running in next month’s presidential elections is aimed at changing the negative perception of women in the Arab world’s most populous country.” (Gulf News)

July 21: (Op-Ed) The Politics of Egypt’s Sexual Violence

“Some blame unemployment, poverty and the influence of pornography, but the fundamental reason, in my opinion, is the influence of Wahhabi strictures on men’s view of women,” writes Alaa Al Aswany, author of the novel “The Yacoubian Building” and other books. (New York Times)

July 22: The art of fighting sexual harassment

Shout Art Loud, an interactive web documentary produced by the international nonprofit ‘Index on Censorship’, explores how art tackles the topic of sexual harassment in Egypt.” (Daily News Egypt)

July 25: Egypt eyes harassment-free Eid

“The Interior Ministry of Egypt has set up an anti-harassment unit, officially called the 'Department of Combat of Violence against Women.' Police said the unit personnel will be deployed on busy streets and outside theatres during the three-day Eid, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.” (Gulf News)


July 15: Hijab cannot be enforced forcefully: interior minister

“Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli has said that hijab is not an issue that can be enforced through force or using pressure.” (Tehran Times)

July 16: City of Tehran’s female workers fired 'for own well-being'

“Citing long hours and possible disruptions to family life, officials at the Tehran municipality have replaced female secretarial workers with men.” (Al-Monitor)

July 23: Latest Statistics Reveal: Marriage of 31,000 Underage Iranian Girls in 9 Months

“Over five percent of women who got married in the first nine months of 1392 (i.e., between March and December of 2013) were less than 15 years of age.” (Payvand)

July 24: Complaints expose abuse in Iranian schools

“A number of high-profile cases of sexual and physical abuse by school authorities points to the failure of the school system and government in Iran to properly address and educate on the issue.” (Al-Monitor)

July 26: Despite a Crackdown, Iranian Fashion Keeps Pushing Boundaries

“A famous clothing design institute called “Khaneh Mode” or Mode House was shut down last week in Tehran. The fashion designer had caused a controversy last month when it held a show with models wearing coats which appeared to be made of the Iranian flag—minus its religious symbols. Nor did it help that the show had allowed men among its audience.” (TIME)


July 15: The slaughter of dozens of alleged Iraqi prostitutes and the dark world they inhabited

“In all, anywhere from 20 to 29 alleged prostitutes were killed in a massacre that also claimed the lives of several men. No one appears to know what happened: who the killers were, why they did this, who ordered it.” (Washington Post)

July 22: Iraq: ISIS warns women to wear full veil or face punishment

“Islamic State, the al-Qaida offshoot that seized large swathes of northern Iraq last month, has warned women in the city of Mosul to wear full-face veils or risk severe punishment.” (The Guardian)

July 24: Militants order female genital mutilation in Iraq: U.N.

“Doubts emerged on social media about the basis for the report. One document posted on Twitter suggested it may be a year old and have been issued by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, the group's previous name.” (Reuters)

July 25: The ISIS Crackdown on Women, by Women

“The Western narrative of the oppressed Muslim woman may be misguided, but as Raqaa's experience shows, ‘jihadi girl power’ often comes at other women's expense.” (The Atlantic)


July 21: Culture of respecting human rights needed, lawyer says

“According to Elisabeth Zakharia Sioufi, while Lebanon has passed several important laws, very few people are aware of them, primarily because they were not being properly enforced. She is currently working toward implementing a national strategy to combat human trafficking in Lebanon in order to put the law into practice.” (Daily Star)


July 15: Gov’t to grant free health, education services to children of Jordanian women married to foreigners

“The government plans to grant several services and privileges to the children of Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians to ease some of the restraints they face in their daily lives, Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs Khaled Kalaldeh said on Tuesday.” (Jordan Times)

Palestinian Territories

July 25: Israeli and Palestinian women on Gaza conflict

“Two women living with the conflict, one in Israel and one in Gaza, have described the effect of the continued violence on their lives and their thoughts on the possibilities of a ceasefire.” (BBC)

Saudi Arabia

July 20: Women employees reshape Saudi Arabia's labor market

“Over the past five years, many dramatic shifts have taken place within Saudi Arabia, including the introduction of the kingdom's first co-ed university, the multibillion-dollar King Abdullah Science and Technology University (known as KAUST). Also, there are now weekly exhibitions at galleries that have opened across the country, notable in a society where artistic expression has traditionally been kept private.” (Knowledge @ Wharton)

July 21: Role of Saudi women entrepreneurs ‘changing rapidly’

“Glowork is a social enterprise that seeks to help unemployed women, including those who prefer to work from home, find jobs in various sectors. Glowork’s founder and CEO Khalid Alkhudair believes training and employing women in different sectors can reverse the waste of human capital in the Kingdom.” (Saudi Gazette)

July 23: Women to take part in municipal polls

“The Council of Ministers has approved legislation that would allow Saudi women to vote and stand as candidates in upcoming municipal council elections.” (Arab News)


July 15: Women of War: Syria photos win top Paris prize

“The efforts of Sebastiano Tomada have been acknowledged with the Medaille d’Or from the Prix de la Photographie Paris. The photographs he captured were of Syrian women fighters, some of them clutching their children, in an undisclosed command post inside Aleppo.” (Al Arabiya)

July 16: Child marriages double among Syria refugees in Jordan

“Save the Children, in a report, ‘Too Young to Wed’ said children marrying in Syria before the country's conflict erupted in 2011 accounted for 13 percent of all marriages.” (Daily Star)

July 17: Syrian mother's agony: why I made my teenage daughter become a child bride

“Mona Mahmood interviews three mothers who arranged pragmatic matches for their girls, only to regret it after the event.” (The Guardian)

July 17: Domestic violence increases among Syrian refugees

“The stresses of the war and lack of income are resulting in more cases of domestic violence among Syrian refugees in Jordan.” (Al-Monitor)

July 20: Syrian Al-Qaeda women: Searching for combat, martyrdom on the front lines

“Some females loyal to extremist group in rebellion against Assad say they deserve chance to fight for their cause.” (Al-Jazeera)

July 21: Islamic State jihadists stone women to death

“Two women have been stoned to death in the jihadist-controlled Syrian province of Raqqa, a monitoring group said on Monday. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, both women had been accused of adultery and tried in a shari’a court.” (The Telegraph)


July 24: Getting Out the Female Vote in Tunisia

“As the next Tunisian elections approach, those who wish to ensure full female participation say that they worry about rural women, who often don't possess the necessary identification documents or live far away from registration offices. Some civil society campaigns, said Intidhar Louati, are targeting these women by organizing get-out-the-vote campaigns to reach far-flung citizens.” (Foreign Policy)


July 20: Emirati women rush to sign up for voluntary service

“Scores of young Emirati women on Sunday rushed to sign up for voluntary military service at recruitment centres in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, the Western Region and Sharjah.” (Gulf News)

July 21: Emirati woman with a plan to boost local businesses

“Dalal Al Qubaisi has capped off a successful career by being voted on to the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s board of directors. She plans to use her position on the board to promote business solutions for other entrepreneurs.” (The National)


July 22: Striving for change in Yemen

“Nouria Ahmed Nagi is the director and founder of the Yemen Education and Relief Organization, which funds children’s education and supports families in need through donations, micro-loans, and employment opportunities. In late November 2013, Nagi received the Order of the British Empire, making her the first Arab woman recipient.” (Yemen Times)

July 22: AQAP orders women in Hadramout not to leave home unaccompanied

“Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants in Haridha city, Hadramout governorate, distributed brochures to residents on Sunday, listing a number of demands, including that women not go outside unless accompanied by a close male relative.” (Yemen Times)

By Samaa Ahmed and Genevieve Casagrande

Experts & Staff