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The Middle East and North Africa on Women's International Day

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Ethnicity & Race, Human Rights, Humor, Ideas, Indigenous, International Relations, Labor, Literature, Religion, Travel, Women & Gender, Youth

logo2.gifWhile half the world is today celebrating the International Women's Day [1], the other half seems to be blogging about it I suppose.

Here's a run down of some of the reactions and acknowledgement the day received in the Middle East and North Africa.

Our first stop is in Israel, where blogger Stephanie congratulates women on the occasion and cites some statistics from her country about their condition here [2].

“The average woman earns $800 less per month than her male counterpart; Women work about 35 hours per week/men work nearly 46; The average marrying age for Jewish women is 25 (and rising, say reports); Most have a first child at age 30; Number of kids per household hovers around 2.69 (where’d the other .31 of that kid go?); Of a 2.7 million civic workforce, 1.3 million is women; Moslem women in Israel marry at age 22 and average four children and Christian women living in Israel marry at 24 and average 2 children,” she writes.

As Stephanie says, we sure “have our work cut out for us…”

Our next stop is in Syria, where Swedish/Pakistani blogger Shaykhspeara Sha'ira takes us way out of the Middle East to Bogota [3]to share with us an aspect of their celebrations of the day.

“The Mayor of Bogotá in Colombia, Antanas Mockus, introduced a new tradition in 2001 called Women's Night. It was celebrated the night before March 8th and men were asked to stay home with the kids and contemplate over themselves and their women, and the work they do. The women in turn went out to parks and enjoyed themselves with their grandmothers while policeofficers made sure no man disturbed them.
Result: There was not a single murder on the streets of Bogotá, which normally witnesses 15 murders a night,” she writes.

Sure says a lot about who commits crimes out there!

And since everyone is blogging about everyone else and not sticking to their geographical confines, our Englishman in Dubai takes us to Russia [4] and gives us a bite of what he experienced there on the day.

“Whilst in Moscow yesterday it seemed that everyone was carrying flowers, which was nice. Anna in the office explained that it was International Women's Day today. It is a public holiday today in Russia to celebrate but I feel sorry for any man not providing his loved one flowers. Apparently this is viewed very dimly,” he writes.

“So to the women of Russia not only do you get Valentine's day (described by the Moscow Times as a “Western Import”) – I salute you and Happy International Women's Day!”

Being poetic today, Chanad Bahraini, shares with us some Urdu poetry to mark the occasion. He offers:

A couplet from Asrar ul Haq Majaz:

This scarf that covers you is beautiful indeed
It would be better if you made it into a flag of revolt

and a reality check from Kishwar Naheed:

It is we sinful women
Who, when we emerge carrying aloft the flag of truth
Find highways strewn with lies
Find tales of punishment placed at every doorstep
Find tongues which could have spoken, severed.

Still in Bahrain, Silly Bahraini Girl marks the day with a rant [5].

“Something is amiss.. and I can't put my finger on it. It is because we are celebrating the International Woman's Day yet again in a world so unjust and mean to all the sisters, daughters, mothers, wives, lovers and prostitutes out there? Is it because men .. cannot rest in peace unless their women are shackled? Is it because women are items, pieces of property, with no say in anything in their lives? Is it because we women are yet to be reckoned with as equals, as peers and as real partners in life?” she raves.

From Egypt, Freedom for Egyptians dedicates the day to a special group of friends [6]she has made around the world.

“I am dedicating this blog post to a very special dear group of friends. It happened that this group is all made of the greatest girlfriends I had ever had in my life. Despite places, travel, work, studies, husbands, children and different time zones, we always find a way to connect, communicate and remain together as group. It was very difficult for the eight of us during the past few years to meet together physically in one place. The internet, however, can bring all of us together,” she writes.

From Iraq, Ceasar of Pentra [7] gives us a link [8] which opens a window to the suffering of Iraqi women.

“Happy Women's Day, Ladies! And lemme salute in this occasion every Iraqi woman. They are the real heroes,” he writes.

And last but not least is a post by Achelois, who dedicates the day to the most important woman in her life – her mother [9].

“I want to celebrate International Women’s Day by thanking the most beautiful woman in the world for giving birth to me. Thank you Mama, and I love you!” she notes.

To all the women out there: thank you and we love you all!

(Note: Do you notice how celebrating International Women's Day has taken us all around the world – the very world men have worked so hard to partition and divide through wars and hate? Just a thought!)