Middle East: Women Looking for a Cause to Celebrate

Female bloggers from across the Middle East joined hands in marking the International Women's Day with posts reflecting on the occasion and celebrating the lives and achievements of women who have touched them.

In Saudi Arabia, American Bedu admits that while many women in the kingdom may not even be aware of the significance of the day, they are “likely women who are happy and content with their lives and know who they are.”

She continues:

for those who take relish in reading of the lack of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and viewing the Saudi woman as among the most oppressed in the world, I’d like to point out that Saudi women are consistently receiving more opportunities. These are opportunities in education, employment, legal rights, etc. I know there will be so many naysayers saying these are minimal and only because a “man” approved but guess what…that is a fact of life in Saudi Arabia. And this fact will not change until Saudi women (and not expat women or other groups) choose to take initiatives for changes – if they want them in the first place.

The blogger, who is married to a Saudi, also pays tribute to a special woman in her life:

I wish to recognize my dear Saudi mother-in-law, Mama Moudy. She may never drive, she may never be seen uncovered, she may not be educated but she is among one of the wisest, compassionate, supportive (she accepted her son marrying an American!), kind and beautiful (inside and out) women I have met.

Israelity Bites, from Israel, comments on an initiative by American author Alice Walker's to enter Gaza to mark the day with 60 other activists.

She notes:

The Code Pink intends to stay three days in the enclave and they have brought along some goodie baskets of hygiene care items for families affected by the 20 month trade blockade, the bombing of smugglers’ tunnels, and the “wanton” destruction during Operation Cast Lead.
Militant rocket fire continues, still provoking airstrikes by the IAF, but these women are calm and determined to get inside to witness their US tax dollars at work.

She ends her post asking:

How will Hamas celebrate Women's Day, I wonder..

From Palestine, American activist Marcy Newman laments the fact that the day is no longer a holiday. She writes:

today is international women’s day. this used to be a day off in palestine. a day that people did not work. apparently, this is no longer the case. […] if this were still a holiday that the palestinian authority honored we might be able to do things like honor palestinian women political prisoners

In Kuwait, American blogger Desert Girl on Kuwait marks the day by criticising the tone of a warden notice issued by the American Embassy, which she describes as “alarmist.”

The circular was issued after an American woman complained about being harassed at a shopping centre and warns women saying:

Western women in Kuwait should be particularly vigilant because their dress and freedom of movement can attract attention, in part because many local women are dressed much differently.

Desert Girl remarks:

How do you feel about that statement? I don't think that non-hejab-wearing women dress much differently than Western women (and for many women who wear hejab, the only difference is often the scarf). I think for the most part that most Western women try to dress appropriately for Kuwait – and again for the most part – conservatively by Western standards. I dress like my Kuwaiti girlfriends (who don't wear hejab) and vice versa. I have Moslem American friends who wear hejab and some who wear abaya and niqab. And “freedom of movement”? Yeh! Where in Kuwait and at what time don't Kuwaiti women go? They're free to move. I don't get it. This just pissed me off.

Happy International Women's Day.

Still in Kuwait, Teach the Masses celebrates the day by paying tribute to women who have made a difference. Her short post says:

Happy March 8th everyone!
Rosa Louise Parks- for sitting tight.
Mother Teresa- for not sitting down at all.
Diana Princess of Wales- for doing it all and sitting pretty.
Marie Curie- for sitting in a lab and saving the world.
Just a few.

Palestinian Al Falasteeniya also pays tribute to women, whom she describes as “beyond awesome.” She notes:

ok, ok, enough with the intl women's day posts. really, everyday should be intl women's day, right? nonetheless, i want to take this opportunity to share with you some way too cool women who i think are beyond awesome. at the same time, i want to honor those who are no longer with us.

For her list, click here.

Meanwhile, Ansam, at Gather te rosebuds while ye may writes about an art exhibition, featuring the works of five Arab artists, being held in Kuwait to mark the International Day of Women.

And finally Swedish Sniff, who lives in the UAE, notes her surprise that she didn't find many campaigns focusing on women. She explains:

Today on International women's day, I scanned the media for highlights and campaigns focussing on this – and found very little! Perhaps more will see it as the day goes on?

Stay tuned for more reactions from the day.


  • […] Tuesday, March 10, 2009 by Intern in Israel Homes in southern Nablus slated for eviction Middle East: Women Looking for a Cause to Celebrate […]

  • TDoc

    Interesting discussion on CNN in a case where a 75-year-old Saudi woman gets 40 lashes. http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=294393

    I think it’s very crucial that open criticisms toward such punishment should be encouraged. If there’s either a cultural or religious justification to that, bring it. But please let there be an open discussion about the issue.

  • […] Voices Online examines International Women’s Day for Middle Eastern women bloggers. More […]

  • Hello,

    I’m doing research on terrorism, and I’ve put together a pre-survey questionnaire that I’m circulating in order to get feedback on what a non-biased (non-western, non-white) survey might look like. The final survey will go out later this year.

    The survey can be accessed at johnmaszka.com/SURVEY.html

    Would you post it, and possibly circulate it? I’m very interested in incorporating the views of women, non-whites, and people living outside of America and Western Europe.

    I’d appreciate it.

    Take care,

    John Maszka

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