March 8, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 6820

Egyptian Columnist On Occasion Of International Women's Day: While Media, International Bodies Celebrate Women's Day, Women Continue To Suffer

March 8, 2017
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 6820

In an article she published in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram on March 8, 2017, on the occasion of International Women's Day, columnist Asmaa Al-Husseini wrote that the dire situation of women in the world, especially in the Arab region and Africa, stems from a deliberate policy of the regimes and from backward social and cultural practices. She added that in the Arab world the problem is growing even worse due to the increasing power of Islamist forces. She called to take International Women's Day as an opportunity to examine women's status and take genuine measures to improve it.

The following are excerpts:[1]

"The media and international bodies are celebrating International Women's Day, but where are the world's women as these celebrations take place? If we look around us at the Arab world or at women in Africa... we see only the acute suffering [that characterizes] women's lives, [whether as] children, girls, mothers, widows or elderly women. This suffering results from the policy of irrational regimes and from wars and armed struggles, for women are always the first to bear the full cost [of wars and struggles].

"In addition, there are [aspects of] culture and various customs passed down from generation to generation which do not grant women the status to which they are entitled. There are some among us who still do not believe that women have the right to study and work and be full members of society. There are societies that still deny themselves [the benefit that can be derived from] the immense abilities [of women].

Cartoon in Jordanian daily: "International Women's Day" (Al-Ghad, Jordan, March 8, 2017)

"In in the Arab and Muslim world, women's suffering is growing today, due to the many changes this world is undergoing. And what makes their situation even worse is the advent of currents that brandish Islam as their slogan. [These currents] harm women and convey a mistaken view of Islam and of women's status [in it, a status] that the Prophet Muhammad summarized by saying [that women are] 'the sisters of men' and by stating in his farewell speech:[2] 'I charge you to treat women well.' Allah said [in Koran 16:97]: 'Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer - We will surely cause him to live a good life .'

"Marking Women's Day should be [an opportunity to] sound the warning bell in order to examine the situation of women and take genuine steps to improve it. Despite all the [positive] changes in the status of women worldwide, there are still many behaviors that contravene the shiny slogans people are brandishing."

Cartoon in Saudi daily: the man, holding a calendar of 364 "Men's days," hands the women a single day labelled "International Woman's Day" ('Okaz, Saudi Arabia, March 8, 2017)


[1] Al-Ahram (Egypt), February 8, 2017.

[2] Muhammad's last speech, delivered in Mecca in 632 AD to tens of thousands of believers.

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