March 31, 2007 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 335

International Women's Day – Cartoons in Arab Press Criticize Women's Status in Arab World

March 31, 2007 | By Ofir Winter
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 335

On the occasion of International Women's Day, March 8, 2007, the Arab press published numerous cartoons dealing with status of women in the Arab world. Some focused on the women's role as housewives who spend their time cleaning, cooking, and caring for the children, and on the men's role as figures of authority who exploit and oppress them.

Other cartoons criticized the hypocrisy of the male-dominated establishment, ridiculing male public figures who give lofty speeches on Women's Day, but in actuality do nothing to promote women's equality.

Still others emphasized the contrast between the spirit of International Women's Day – celebrating women's rights and liberation – and the actual status of women, who are still oppressed and deprived of their rights.

The following are examples of the cartoons:

Women as Housewives

Cartoon No. 1: "Women's Day"

Cartoon No. 2: The writing on the note in the dustpan says: "International Women's Day – invitation to a feast for the poor in a five-star hotel." The writing on the patches says: "Invitation," "Women's Day Celebration," "for the Promotion of Women's Rights," etc.

Cartoon No. 3: The text on the TV screen says: "International Women's Day."

Men as Oppressors of Women

Cartoon No. 4: "On Women's Day"

Cartoon No. 5: "Women Constitute Half of Society." The male bird says to his weeping wife: "By the way, I have decided that you must wear a hijab and stay in the nest. It's enough that I work."

Cartoon No. 6: The man, standing on the woman's back, is writing: "International Women's Day."

The Hypocrisy of the Male-Dominated Establishment

Cartoon No. 7: "The Woman on Her Day." The text on the lectern says: "March 8 – Women's Day." The man, waiting for his turn to speak, says to the woman: "After we men finish [speaking], you can prattle a bit."

Cartoon No. 8: "Women's Day Celebration"

Women's Day versus Women's Actual Status

Cartoon No. 9: "March 7, March 8, March 9"

Cartoon No. 10: "International Women's Day and Other Days"

Cartoon No. 11: "International Women's Day"

* O. Winter is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.

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