In honor of International Women's Day, March 8, MEMRI is launching its Women's Studies Initiative Tumblr account, on which readers can follow developments in women's issues across the Middle East, Iran, South Asia, and North and West Africa as they happen.
The MEMRI Women's Studies Initiative grew out of the MEMRI Reform Project, which monitors advocates of reform and democracy in the region and the obstacles that they face in advancing their cause. The Initiative aims to help advance women in the region, by researching, examining, translating, and analyzing media content in the countries in which they live in order to report on their status, their struggles, and their triumphs, in the Middle East and South Asia.
To date, the Initiative has released over 250 reports and over 350 translated video clips from the region's media; it has assisted influential women's rights activists and other reformists in the region; and the MEMRI website has come to serve them as a platform for their media appearances and writings, helping them reach beyond the Middle East to the West.
Our research brings to Western media, governments, legislatures, academia, and the general public information about women's situations that cannot be found anywhere else. Moreover, for women's rights activists and other reformists in the region, the MEMRI website has come to serve as a platform for their media appearances and writings, helping them reach beyond the Middle East to the West.
The MEMRI Women's Studies Initiative has focused on, and brought Western attention to, issues such as "honor" killings, violence against women, polygamy, women and driving, male guardianship laws, legal inequity, the veil, and female genital mutilation – where often the authorities in those countries deny that these things are happening.
The Initiative's NEW TUMBLR ACCOUNT will be updated throughout the week, with new research and videos and reports from the MEMRI archives. You can help us bring the plight of girls and women in the region to world attention, by sharing it via social media and other platforms.
The following are a number of women's rights activists who, thanks to the MEMRI Women's Studies Initiative, have been able to bring their message to the world.
Saudi Activist – Who Has Been Called "The Arab Rosa Parks" – Leads Campaign To Let Women Drive Cars; Was Introduced To West By MEMRI
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The leading Saudi women's rights leader, journalist Wajiha Al-Huweidar, whose campaign to let women drive in her home country has made headlines several times, was first brought to the attention of the West by MEMRI. As a result, she was written about by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who cited MEMRI, and the Wall Street Journal called for her to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She is also working to end the male guardianship over women that is the law of the land in her home country. A feature story on her and the women's rights movement she co-founded was published by The Washington Post and by other leading newspapers in the West. MEMRI has released a number of videos and reports on Ms. Huweidar, who was recently sentenced to prison for her attempts to protect a Canadian woman in Saudi Arabia from an abusive husband.
Runaway Child Bride Nada Al-Ahdal – MEMRI TV Clip Viewed Over 10 Million Times
The story of Nada Al-Ahdal, the 11-year-old runaway Yemeni child bride who made an impassioned video plea for protection for girls like her, was first brought to the West by MEMRI; the video was translated by MEMRI and has been viewed over 10 million times on the MEMRI YouTube page and the MEMRI TV website. MEMRI's translated video sparked discussion worldwide, and as a result, the plight of child brides in Yemen and across the region are beginning to receive the attention it deserves.
Pakistani Actress Defending Her Rights Against Repressive Clerics Was Introduced To West By MEMRI
Pakistani actress Veena Malik's criticism of repressive clerics in her country and her forceful defense of her rights as a Pakistani woman was likewise brought to the West by MEMRI. It was reported on by numerous Western media sources, including the Los Angeles Times, which wrote: "In a widely circulating video, Veena Malik... tears apart a smug Islamist mullah berating her for being 'un-Islamic.'" Following MEMRI's release of the clip, which was viewed over 1.5 million times on the MEMRI YouTube page alone, Malik was named to Forbes magazine's "Power List" of women.
Sudanese Journalist Sentenced To Flogging – Received Help From France As A Result Of MEMRI Coverage Of Her Story
As a result of publicity generated by MEMRI's coverage of her story, Sudanese journalist Lubna Ahmad Hussein, who was sentenced to flogging for wearing trousers in public, was promised French assistance by French president Nicholas Sarkozy. He asked foreign minister Bernard Kouchner to publicly denounce her arrest and trial, and instructed the French ambassador in Sudan to invite her to the French residency there; her trial was also attended by French and EU representatives. Said Sarkozy: "We will help her continue her struggle which is that of all women and which honors her."
MEMRI Clip Of Saudi Woman At Mall Harassed By Religious Police For Wearing Nail Polish Goes Viral, With Over 1 Million Views
Confronted by religious police at a Saudi mall for wearing nail polish, a Saudi woman recorded a cellphone video of her defiance and told them, "For your information, the video is on its way to Twitter and Facebook as we speak... You are not the boss of me, and you can't tell me not to wear nail polish." The MEMRI TV translation of the clip on YouTube has been viewed over one million times, and the clip was reported on by hundreds of media sources worldwide.
Visit the MEMRI Women's Studies Initiative Tumblr account here.