Almost everyone has heard of the annual International Women’s Day, but have you heard of the Arab Women’s Day? Although I grew up in Syria, I had not heard of it. When I mentioned this day to my family and friends living throughout the MENA region, most them responded with a confused: “You mean Mother’s Day?”
In a conservative society where the majority of men believe that the role of women should be confined to domestic work within the household, Yemeni women are attempting to break the chains of social and cultural constraints.
If you are up for a challenge, hop on a bus or flag a taxi in one of Morocco’s larger cities. If one thing is certain, relying on urban public transport in Morocco is a frustrating, time-consuming and sometimes risky experience. These were the conclusions drawn by civil society organizations in a recent World Bank-sponsored consultation held in the capital, Rabat.
Microfinance – defined as the access to and usage of quality financial services, including savings, credit, insurance and money transfer systems - is crucial for low-income households to manage cash flows to finance day-to-day living, manage risks, invest productively, and respond to financial shocks.
The low levels of financial inclusion in the Middle East and North Africa region, however, have left many with limited access to any sort of financial services. This is especially true for certain groups such as women and young people.
Peer learning has great potential as an effective tool for sharing knowledge and good practice. For it to work, the right environment is needed; one that is conducive to learning and knowledge-sharing. In a recent case in Georgia, however, it all came down to the right crowd, a great host and relevant experiences. Good food and nice weather may also have helped some.
From the exhilaration of popular revolution to the tragedy of ongoing conflict, the Middle East and North Africa region has occupied a prominent place in the headlines. Yet there is another, often silent, drama that is not receiving the attention it deserves. It is playing out in both rich and poor countries, albeit in different forms. A series of alarming statistics reveal an ongoing deterioration in the overall health of the people of the region.
“I never thought that a poor family could benefit so much by me giving just a small amount of money,” the old man said with an intrigued yet hopeful expression on his face. We were sitting in a small classroom in Aqaba, Jordan, chosen as part of a behavioral experiment on Social Safety Nets. Although I have worked on social issues for many years, this statement was eye-opening to me.
More than two years after Egypt's populist revolution in which men, women and people from all across the social and age spectrum revolted to put an end to the 30 year old regime of Mubarak under the motto "bread, freedom, social justice" it is worth examining what this social and political upheaval has meant for the status of women in Egypt.
For its level of per-capita income (around $1,500), the Palestinian territories have among the best social indicators in the world. These achievements are all the more remarkable given the difficult economic circumstances facing the Palestinian territories. In contrast to other countries such as India, Indonesia or Peru, teachers in the Palestinian territories do teach and clinics are staffed with health workers.
I am a business woman, an entrepreneur from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. I managed to start and grow two companies and a nonprofit in my lifetime. Does this show gender equality? I was neither welcome nor unwelcome by men into this field of work but I believed in something and made it happen. Can such an attitude contribute to changing the reality for women?