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A Pakistan Woman’s ‘Dua’ Against Domestic Violence, Marital Rape, Echoes In India

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 Jun 2020

Demanding Inclusive Spaces For Women ― Online And Offline


• Muslim Women Renew Calls for More Inclusive Programs As Mosques Reopen

• Latest Study Finds Muslim Women Face Discrimination Under Malaysian Shariah System

• Saudis Mourn Loss Of Courageous Nurse To COVID-19

• Belgium Group Criticizes High Court’s Headscarf Opinion

• Saudi Experts Discuss Need for Training, Development To Boost Women’s Workforce Participation

• Girl Held in Saudi Arabia For Dancing While Wearing Police Vest

• Saudi Ambassador to the US Reema Bandar Al Saud nominated to International Olympic Committee

• Women Have Become A Sizable Economic Force in Mideast — BCG

• New Mentoring Programme Launched for Women in The Middle East

• Iranian Centre Makes “Reminder” Warning About Women’s Rights

Israeli Knitting Project Empowers Bedouin, Syrian Women

Compiled ByNew Age Islam News Bureau



A Pakistan Woman’s ‘Dua’ Against Domestic Violence, Marital Rape, Echoes In India


June 10, 2020

More than a century after Muhammad Iqbal’s Lab peaatihaidua became a household nazm in undivided India, a revamped version of it, in the form of a woman’s ‘dua’ (prayer) against domestic violence, marital rape and seeking gender equality in a marriage, has risen from Pakistan.

Sample this: “Lab peaatihaiduabanketamannameri, ghar to unkahohuqumathokhudayameri..Meraeemanhoshoher se mohabbatkarna..naitaa’at, naghulami, naibaadatkarna.. kisijhirki, kisithapparkabhisawaalnaho (My wish comes to my lips like a prayer, the house maybe his but my rule should also be there. My conviction should be to love my husband, not total submission, slavery or his worship. Let alone any question of a blow or a slap)”.

This ‘dua’, made by a would-be bride, has found strong resonance in neighboring India and is being shared widely since lockdown began and there was a spurt in domestic violence cases. The response to the ‘dua’, written and composed by critically acclaimed director ShoaibMansoor (67), has also reinforced the fact that women in the subcontinent continue to face similar issues.

Iqbal, also known as Allama Iqbal, had written the original composition in 1902. The poet -philosopher also went on to write ‘SaareJahaan se achha Hindustan hamara‘ (Taranah-e-Hind), still among the most popular patriotic songs in India. Iqbal, along with Mohammad Ali Jinnah, became the force behind creation of Pakistan but his literary works continue to be admired in the two countries for the modern vision that he infused in traditional Islamic culture and beliefs.

A century later, Mansoor’s ‘Dua-E-Reem’ (A Prayer of A Woman), a video song of nearly 7 minutes with actor Mahira Khan in the lead, is set in pre-partition era. It shows ‘mirasi’ (traditional singers) singing an orthodox version of the ‘dua’ at a pre-wedding celebration. “Lab peaatihaiduabanketamannameri… Meraimaanhoshoharkiitaa’atkarna, unkisooratkinaseeratkishikaayatkarna. Dhamkiyaan de to tasallihokithappadnapada, pareythappad to karunshukrakijootanahua… Bibiyonkonahibhaweyhaibagaavatkarna. Muskuranagaaliyankhaakesikhaanamujhko (I pray.. May my faith be to completely submit to my husband. Never complain about his looks or character. I should feel blessed that it wasn’t a slap, if he threatens me. If slapped, I should be thankful it was not a boot. Rebelling is not what a good woman does. Teach me how to smile even if he abuses me)”.

A furious dulhan (Mahira Khan), however, stops them. “What kind of prayers are you singing for me. It is my dua, I will sing on my own,” she asserts.

“Lab peaatihaiduabanketamannameri, ghar to unkahohuqumathokhudayameri..Meraeemanhoshoher se mohabbatkarna..naitaa’at, naghulami, naibaadatkarna..Main agar battibujhaunkeandherahojaye, main hi battikojalaun to ujalahojaye… Na karoonmaikeymeinaakar main shikaayatunki, karniaatihomujhekhud hi marammatunki..Womohabbatjiseyandesha e zawalnaho..kisijhirkikisithappadkabhisawaalna ho.. (I pray…the house maybe his but my rule should also be there. My conviction should be to love my husband, not total submission, slavery or his worship. I control the switch to spread darkness and it’s me who turns on the lights. Instead of complaining about him at my parent’s home, I should know how to deal with him on my own. Our love should be such that we should not fear any low, let alone a question of a blow or a slap),” she sings.

The song released on social media platforms in March this year received positive response from people in India and Pakistan but a few accused Mansoor of “teaching disobedience” to Muslim women and “breaking their homes”.

SakshiParwanda from Delhi wrote, “This is what we should pray for and teach the women”.

“My shaadi anthem has just arrived and I love it!,” wrote MairaNajam from Karachi in Pakistan.

“There is nothing more beautiful than a woman determined to rise. Watch it,” wrote Rishabh Singh from Kanpur of India. “Very nice, I loved it,” wrote Anjali Sharma from Chandigarh. “A powerful message on how a marriage should be,” wrote Akansha Jain from Indore.

‘No TV channel agreed to play it in Pakistan’

Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Mansoor said that his ‘dua’ for women is both for India and Pakistan. “We might be two different countries now, par log wahihain, masleywahihain (people and issues are same). I knew that women from both countries will be able to relate to it.”

He says that he has tried to touch serious issues such as marital rape, domestic violence, abuse through lyrics. “When the bride says ‘Main agar battibujhaunkeandherahojaye…’ she is referring to physical relationship with her husband. She is saying that her consent and will matters too,” says Mansoor.

About the backlash that he faced from radicals in Pakistan, Mansoor says, “No TV channel agreed to play this on screen so we had no option but to release it online only. They said these lyrics might agitate radicals and they have to face consequences. We are overwhelmed and thankful for the response it has received from India.”

Mansoor, who is credited for introducing Pakistan actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan with his films ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ and ‘Bol’, respectively, says, “All my works till now have spoken for women and their rights. I think we, as a society, have never given them the treatment they always deserved. If I connect titles of my three films, it is self-explanatory. ‘KhudakayliyeBolVerna‘ (For God’s Sake, speak up, else…).”

Mansoor said Iqbal’s family members are happy with this revamped ‘dua’. “In fact they have shared it further. There is always a backlash when you write something that is not widely accepted. But we have to teach women that they need not return dead from their husband’s house if ill-treated,” said Mansoor.

Meanwhile, Qashif Effendi, CEO Reem Rice Mills, who invested in the project, says, “We just provided financial assistance to Mansoor’s vision. We stood behind the project to lend a bold voice for women in Pakistan because it is high time to tell women that they don’t have to worship their husbands but to share mutual love and respect. In India they say ‘Patiparmeshwarhai‘ and in Pakistan ‘shoharkiibaadatkaro’. What’s the difference?”


Muslim Women Renew Calls for More Inclusive Programs As Mosques Reopen


As the coronavirus outbreak spread, mosques, like many houses of worship, were required to close their doors even during the holy month of Ramadan in compliance with state-wide shutdowns. American Muslims across the country were forced to celebrate at home.

With the entire country homebound, many Muslims turned to online religious programming, and a silver lining appeared in the quarantine. It opened a space for Muslim women leaders and scholars to hold virtual programming in what is a traditionally male-dominated space. Mosques across the country were suddenly in need of more speakers to fill the void of online discussions, and Muslim women, who were often overlooked despite their qualifications, were now being tapped to host virtual meetups and programs.

The success of these virtual programs ― hosted and led by women for women ― has renewed calls for more inclusive programs to translate over into the physical spaces. With Ramadan over and mosques beginning to reopen with the loosening of lockdown measures, Muslim Americans are using the opportunity to rethink how their houses of worship operate and can survive as the COVID-19 crisis eases.

“It was very sad and a bit lonely praying often by myself or with my mom at home. But at the same time, what I noticed, not just for me but also for women across the country, was that there was a plethora of religious programming that was online and that was particularly alluring to women,” said Hind Makki, a Chicago resident who would regularly go to the mosque during Ramadan to worship and gather with other Muslims.

Outside of Ramadan, Makki considers herself “unmosqued,” not regularly attending a specific mosque because the ones near her lack proper accommodations for women, she said. The inadequate physical spaces, including putting the women’s section in the basement and having few programs that cater to women, turned her away. But after participating in several female-focused online programs, she said, she may not miss the physical institutions after all.

Demanding Inclusive Spaces For Women ― Online And Offline

In 2012, Makki started Side Entrance, a visual storytelling platform where she collected and posted photos of the women’s section of a mosque. Since the majority of mosques are gender-segregated, oftentimes the women’s section was neglected. In her photos, viewers contrasted the women’s spaces with the men’s prayer hall, which often served as the main hall and was better lighted and decorated, and was stocked with more resources.

Women’s spaces were much smaller, despite the fact women frequently attended with their families and children. Sometimes the imam in the main hall could be seen only on a TV, which often broke down. The inadequacies contributed to a sense of it being a spiritually draining space.

“My intention was to start a conversation and provide visual evidence of what women’s experiences are like. The reason to do that was to provide a space for catharsis for women and then to show men who typically don’t ever go into the women’s spaces, or even think about the women’s spaces, what women’s experiences are like,” said Makki. 

Makki’s findings have been published in the Reimagining Muslim Spaces study presented by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), which is aimed at supporting mosques and community centers to meet the needs of their congregants, especially women, youth and converts. 

Data from the ISPU study showed that women and men attended American mosques in nearly equal rates and helped form a toolkit for mosques to improve their inclusivity. Specific recommendations included ensuring women were on leadership boards, building attractive and comfortable women’s spaces, and matching resources. 

During the coronavirus lockdown, many women like Makki didn’t yearn for the mosque as much as the men did, mostly because they had already chosen to turn away. Many Muslim women had solicited online programs to feel uplifted and connected, even before the pandemic hit.

Rabata is one of those organizations. Tamara Gray was on a speaking tour across the U.S. after being out of the country for 20 years when she noticed that professional Muslim women in America were stifled when it came to Islamic programming and scholarship. Her organization launched in 2012, and soon Rabata became the leading digital educational organization dedicated to women who wanted to learn about Islam and find community among other women.

“We were already building an online community believing and knowing that these communities were saving some women from desperate loneliness,” said Gray, who holds a doctorate in leadership and spent 20 years studying classical Islamic sciences, the Quran and Arabic in Syria. Gray said her goal is to cultivate “a rising tide of Muslim women scholars and leaders and community care activists who are ready and waiting” for when the American mosques are ready to include them in their leadership positions. 

During Ramadan, the organization saw an uptick of Muslim women attending programs, sometimes a few hundred a night. Gray knows firsthand that Muslim women are hungry for these spaces, an issue that dates back years since her organization’s founding but was brought into sharper relief as COVID-19 prompted lockdowns. If American mosques want to survive and to ensure that Muslim women come back, the leadership needs to address those gaping holes, Gray said.

“When we sideline women, one of the things we’re doing is sidelining our faith. It is absolutely connected,” Gray said. 

Rethinking The Mosque’s Business Model 

When mosques closed their doors during their busiest month of the year, their source of stability suddenly was on shaky ground. Mosques often relied on large congregations during Ramadan to raise money for that year’s expenses and to pay their imams, some of whom had been laid off from the mosques. Soon other expenses needed to be cut.

Faisal Khwaja, the co-founder of DeenTek, an organization founded in 2012 to help mosques manage administrative tasks, started to get panicked phone calls from his clients. For years, his organization had helped more than 500 mosques across the country handle their administrative and financial tasks through its most recent cloud management software, MOHID.

But with the lockdown in full effect and their halls empty, mosques could no longer afford to pay for the software, despite their need for it. In normal conditions, about 80% of the donations came from in-person gatherings, according to Khawja compared with the mere 20% that was processed online, posing a challenge for mosques to meet those same numbers solely online. Through the MOHID app and in-house kiosks, mosques were able to raise millions of dollars. During Ramadan last year, American mosques raised nearly $13 million through MOHID.

So Khwaja’s team decided to give away their services and assisted struggling mosques to get up to speed on the technology. The company also launched a free virtual fundraising feature to help clients raise money for annual expenses. He said mosques were at risk of shutting down over their inability to pay the mortgage or keep up with bills because they were unable to engage with the community for donations.

The sacrifices paid off, and the company reported that it was able to help raise over $17 million this past Ramadan for mosques across the U.S. through its virtual platform.

But the problem is beyond Ramadan, Khawja said. Mosques need to develop permanent plans and rethink their business models if they want to survive through this pandemic and possible future ones.

“People are realizing now there are so many other ways to engage the community in ways they never utilized before, although we’ve been trying to tell them for a while,” Khawja said.

“If they are not going to accustom themselves with the technology, if they’re not going to adopt this new norm, they’re going to keep suffering, and we really don’t want that. We are here to help.”

Yearning For Tangible Change

As mosques begin to reopen, some have opened their doors just to men, reasoning that Friday prayers are an obligation for men but not women, until they are able to open fully for everyone. The move has been criticized by Muslim women who see it as unfair and as a sign that Muslim women’s attachment to the mosque is overlooked.

“How are we serving the entire community if we’re reopening only for men, the same people who had always had access to the mosque. We’re not serving the spiritual needs of the rest of the community,” Makki said.  

Makki’s suggestion is for the mosques to reopen as first-come, first-served, regardless of gender. Afterall, mosques in America aren’t only for prayers, she pointed out. Many individuals, particularly those who are marginalized or are new to the faith, seek out Islamic centers for myriad reasons, including religious programming, social services, and a sense of community.

“The sheer number and enthusiastic response to the women-led religious programming over Ramadan, and even before Ramadan during COVID, should show you that women, like men, also are missing the community and the religious-spiritual support during this time that a mosque should be giving,” Makki said.


Latest Study Finds Muslim Women Face Discrimination Under Malaysian Shariah System

11 Jun 2020


KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — Malaysia’s Shariah court system appears to favour men more than women, a study by the legal aid clinic set up by advocacy group Sisters in Islam (SIS) released today showed.

The Telenisa Book: Statistics & Findings 2019 is the fourth edition of statistics collated from 610 clients comprising 556 women and 54 men that approached the legal aid clinic last year.

Telenisa’s clients were aged 18 to 72 years. The biggest group were those in the 31-40 age bracket, followed by those aged 20-30.

“Based on our clients’ experiences, the discussions are often related to concerns that Muslim women are confronted with discriminative treatments and impediments to their access to justice.

“These discriminative treatments can seriously impair the interests of women, and in turn their children that they support and care for,” SIS said in the booklet.

According to the group, the women who had to attend many court hearings for their cases also had their jobs compromised, which in turn affected their family’s economic security as they were effectively single parents who had difficulty even feeding their children.

A significant number of the court cases faced by Muslim women were those seeking child maintenance payments from the father.

“Women who do not receive the maintenance payments ordered by the courts cannot feed and clothe their children.

“Conversely, there are not enough punitive repercussions on husbands who do not attend court hearings or simply disappear or do not provide maintenance.

“We hope not to only address but to achieve gender fairness and access in the courts and in judicial decisions with the willingness of all parties to uphold and protect women and children’s interests in our Shariah legal system,” SIS said.

It called for more representation for women in the system even as it noted there had been an increase in women Sharie lawyers over the years.

In 2017, the number of women registered with the Shariah Lawyers Association rose to over 200, more than 40 per cent higher than it had five years prior.

However, SIS noted that the number of women judges in Malaysia — including in the civil court — were still low overall, despite the elevation of several to senior judicial positions, including current Chief Justice Tan Sri TengkuMaimun Tuan Mat and Court of Appeal President DatukRohana Yusuf.

SIS pointed out that the judiciary is still dominated by men, and called urgently for a gender sensitisation programme.

“Men must also be given the awareness of the impact of discrimination, whether committed directly or indirectly or as a result of the system within which they operate.

“The experiences of women in court support the urgent need for a gender sensitisation awareness programme for all judges across the country,” said SIS.


Saudis Mourn Loss Of Courageous Nurse To COVID-19

June 12, 2020

JEDDAH: A Saudi nurse in the frontline of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic died on Tuesday after contracting the virus while working with patients.

Nujood Al-Khaibari, who worked at Ohud Hospital in Madinah, had tested positive for COVID-19 and later died of the virus.

The Saudi Nurses Association released a statement on Twitter paying their condolences to the nurse and her family.

“The Saudi Nurses Association management, subsidiaries and members offer our sincerest condolences to the family of nursing heroine Nujood Al-Khaibari,” the statement said.

Saudis expressed their grief on Twitter using the hashtag #Nurse_Nujood_AlKhaibari where they shared their prayers for the deceased and her family.

“Those who leave a trace upon others never leave, they’re forever with us. May Allah grant her mercy and may she find herself in Paradise,” said Shouq Al-Ali (@shouqalali).

Mohammed Al-Zara (@al_zara1) tweeted: “Nurse Nujood is one of our health heroines now. She passed away after giving so much to her country and people. She set an example of giving and not holding back with her hard work and sacrifice.”

“What she needs is for us to pray for her and others like her, our heroes in the health sector who are working so hard to combat the pandemic. May Allah have mercy on her soul and may he take her to heaven.”

@fahad_CR7 said: “Her sacrifice and the sacrifices of her colleagues should be more of an incentive for all of us to be careful and adhere to safety precautions. Thank you to our health heroes. We will not forget your efforts and your sacrifice for as long as we live.”

Some tweeps requested that nurses and doctors and others on the frontline of the pandemic ought to get the same treatment as fallen soldiers in the Kingdom, where their names are forever honored by the Ministry of Interior and their families are taken care of.


Belgium Group Criticizes High Court’s Headscarf Opinion

Serife Cetin  



The Belgian Association for the Prevention of Islamophobia (CCIB) reacted early Saturday to a constitutional opinion that said wearing headscarves could be banned in colleges.

CCIB Director Mustafa Chairi told Anadolu Agency a court in Brussels asked for the opinion of the Supreme Court about wearing headscarves in colleges.

He said the Court said colleges had the right to ban religious or philosophical symbols but he thought it was baffling to see such a decision in 2020.

Chairi said the opinion ignores basic human rights and was a discriminatory act against adult women.

The opinion might lead to the isolation of Muslims and would incite structural discrimination within the education system, he said.

In addition to the CCIB, other human rights groups also criticized the Court's opinion, saying it was a violation of human rights.


Saudi Experts Discuss Need for Training, Development To Boost Women’s Workforce Participation


June 12, 2020

JEDDAH: Saudi women still face challenges in the workplace despite the government lifting legal barriers to advance their social and economic participation, according to leading figures in the Kingdom.

A virtual forum, organized by the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue and led by the writer and journalist NahidBashatah, was held to discuss the issues facing Saudi women as they seek to play a proactive part in the Kingdom’s sustainable development goals.

It addressed the roles that were expected of women in different specialties and sectors as well as the obstacles they faced, especially those facing women in leadership positions.

Participants said that, while many legal obstacles had been lifted by the Saudi government in recent years to advance women’s economic and developmental inclusion and engagement, many of the challenges that remained were mostly at a social level.

Hind Al-Zahid, who is undersecretary for women’s development at the Human Resources Ministry, said that there were still some covert discrimination practices based on personal judgment, despite labor legislation not discriminating between women and men.

“For instance, some employers take advantage of some regulations that stipulate women should not be employed in hard labor jobs, so they take it as a way out not to employ any woman based on their own judgment on the nature of work.”

Al-Zahid added that the number of women in leading positions in the public sector did not exceed 2 percent, undermining initiatives that emphasized the need to empower women in leadership and decision-making positions.

Dr.Albandari Al-Rabiah, who is the director of the Studies and Information Department at the Public Administration Institute, said that empowerment came by ensuring women were able to develop their full potential, and that women should be offered effective training that was tailored to their assigned roles.

“Everyone agrees that having a qualified workforce means the need for development, training and well-structured plans in order to provide women with the necessary knowledge and skills so they perform in accordance with what is expected from them,” she told fellow participants.

She said that, since the Vision 2030 reform plan aimed to raise women’s participation in the government sector to 30 percent, there were opportunities for women in the job market that did not exist before. Women needed proper training in order to achieve true empowerment, she added.

Financial adviser and member of the Al-Dakhil Financial Group Khulood Al-Dakhil said that while Saudi women were currently living in a “golden age,” social initiative was necessary to change the limited perceptions about what women could do in society and for their country. “This initiative must be aimed at different segments of society on different levels,” she added.

Shoura Council member Noura Al-Shaban said that women’s empowerment should not mean competition between the two genders and that there should, instead, be a sense of harmonization of roles in society.

She added that women held 30 seats in the Shoura Council, which was 20 percent of the body, and that they had the same responsibilities as their male colleagues.


Girl Held in Saudi Arabia For Dancing While Wearing Police Vest

June 09, 2020

Cairo: Police in the Saudi capital Riyadh arrested a girl who had appeared in an online video clip dancing while wearing a vest belonging to Saudi security forces (police), Saudi news portal Sabq reported Tuesday.

The unidentified girl appears in the footage dancing to the music of a song on a car hood as other persons can be seen around.

The face of the girl, who wears a vest emblazoned with the inscription “General Security”, does not appear in the viral video.

The Riyadh Investigations and Criminal Search Agency identified all those involved and arrested them for legal procedures, according to the report.

The incident took place in a rest house in Riyadh, according to the Saudi newspaper Al Marsd.


Saudi Ambassador to the US Reema Bandar Al Saud nominated to International Olympic Committee

June 12, 2020

Saudi Arabia's Princess Reema Bandar Al Saud is among three women nominated to the International Olympic Committee this week as part of an effort to increase women's representation in sport.

Princess Reema, the kingdom's ambassador to the United States, said she was "thrilled" by the decision of the IOC's Executive Board to include three women candidates among the five nominees.

"Great progress has been made around the world in promoting greater access to sport for women and girls, and ensuring their equal participation in sports. I remain committed to these principles, and look forward to building on the IOC's efforts in this respect," she wrote on Twitter.

Reema Bandar Al-Saud


Replying to @rbalsaud

Great progress has been made around the world in promoting greater access to sport for women and girls, and ensuring their equal participation in sports. I remain committed to these principles, and look forward to building on the IOC's efforts in this respect.


6:49 AM - Jun 12, 2020

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Princess Reema is a member of the IOC's Women in Sport Commission and has led efforts to increase women's participation in sport in Saudi Arabia. She is the Deputy of Women’s Affairs at the Saudi General Sports Authority, a board member of Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, chair of the Saudi Arabia Special Olympics and board member of the Saudi Sport for All Federation.

The IOC executive board also nominated Maria de la Caridad Colon Ruenes of Cuba and KolindaGrabar-Kitarovic of Croatia at its virtual meeting on June 10. The two male nominees are Lord Sebastian Coe of Britain and BattushigBatbold of Mongolia.

The nominations will be voted on at the IOC session on July 17, which will also be held online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the election of these five candidates, the IOC Session and the entire Olympic Movement would benefit from an extremely valuable range of skills and expertise," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement announcing the nominations, noting that "we are also bringing up the female membership to 39”.


Women Have Become A Sizable Economic Force in Mideast — BCG

June 2, 2020

DUBAI — Women have become a sizable economic force, and the next few years can represent a defining decade for women in wealth, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The report, titled 'Managing the Next Decade of Women's Wealth,' urges wealth managers across the Middle East to personalize their approaches to meet the specific needs and priorities of individual clients, regardless of gender, and identify that the women's segment is a massive business opportunity.

According to the BCG Global Wealth 2019 Market Sizing Database, women's wealth segments in Assets under Management (AuM) are in a favorable position to experience substantial growth in the region during the years ahead.

Most notably, women's wealth in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) amounts to $103 billion and $224 billion, respectively, with wealth projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.3 percent and 5.1 percent up to 2023. This emphasizes the tremendous growth of women's wealth and indicates the potential for the coming decade should the growth of this magnitude persist.

Despite the ongoing economic impacts of COVID-19, future growth is still expected to accelerate — with women's wealth projected to strongly contribute to regional wealth growth over the next several years.

The continued growth is due to the likelihood of the pandemic creating an economic shock, which will see the displacement of output before growth eventually rebounds. In this scenario, annual growth rates will fully absorb the impact — enabling continued growth acceleration.

In the coming period up to 2023, the Middle East will continue to witness robust growth, with a 9 percent CAGR increase forecast by 2023. This will be driven primarily by greater political and economic stability across the region, as well as continuous improvements in healthcare and educational access for women.

Female rates of primary and secondary education participation are now similar to those of males, and women outnumber men at the university level in 15 or 22 Arab countries. In the UAE, women in leadership positions have been increasing by 2.4 percent, while women in entrepreneurial activities and labor force participation in KSA has risen by one percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

"The opening up of the Middle East is further evidence that expanded access to education and health care can have positive implications for women," said Mustafa Bosca, managing director and partner, BCG.

"Labor force participation, leadership positions, entrepreneurial activities, and economic empowerment all play important roles in economic advancement, which will, in turn, contribute to further growth in women's wealth over the next decade."

Ensuring gender equality in wealth management

With women's wealth in the Middle East already accounting for USD 786 billion and CAGR estimated to rise by a further 9 percent by 2023, BCG projects that the coming decade will be a monumental period for women and wealth. Advisors in this segment have, up to this stage, been late to address in the growing influence and impact of women.

Wealth managers should, therefore, consider two crucial steps to ensure the potential of women is realized.

Firstly, they should create a culture of inclusion — use standardized questions in the onboarding process and establish varied teams to achieve a shifting culture towards being more inclusive and client-focused.

Secondly, they should focus on the individual — adopting a personalized approach that is tailored to their financial objectives and personal goals.

"Examining preconceptions about female investors, moving beyond labels to treat the individual, and adopting an objective-based and evidence-backed advisory approach will enable wealth managers to ensure the full potential of women is realized in the decade ahead," said Bosca.

"A new wealth management model will meet the demands of women and empower them to make their own decisions. By doing so, they will continue to become a more prominent economic force to the point where, half-way through the coming decade, gender equality will no longer be discussed." — SG


New Mentoring Programme Launched for Women in The Middle East

June 11, 2020

Dubai: The 30% Club MENA Chapter has launched a senior mentoring programme for professional women in the MENA region.

The 30% Club is a global campaign led by chairs, CEOs and leaders of industry taking action to increase gender diversity at board and senior management levels.

As part of its commitment to these objectives, the MENA Chapter sought to launch a cohort of senior industry professionals to formally mentor a number of professional women from across MENA who are all making great strides within their respective industries and who represent a future pipeline of potential board members.

Farah Foustok, CEO of Lazard Gulf and one of the founding members of the MENA Chapter, said: “This is just one way in which the 30% Club is working to shine a spotlight on the many professional women across the GCC and to demonstrate the wealth of talent and expertise that they hold.”

The 30% Club has collaborated with Reach and a number of other partners in launching this inaugural cohort. Founded by four Dubai-based professional women, Reach is the first non-profit organisation to be registered at the Dubai International Financial Centre.

Mentors are experienced men and women willing to share their knowledge and expertise with their mentees. One of its key objectives is to produce a new generation of female leaders from and for the Middle East.


Iranian Centre Makes “Reminder” Warning About Women’s Rights

June 12, 2020

The group is working under the auspices of the Qom branch of the Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization.

“Mental and verbal violence, including swearing, disrespect, shouting, and arrogant and scornful behavior are among the atrocities threatening women,” Mehdi Keshtkar, the director of the movie, told the Tehran Times on Thursday.

“These kinds of violence cause women to feel nihility, self-destructiveness, isolation and anxiety,” he added.

He also noted that the film also intends to show how violence against women imperils the mental health of children and society.

“Education and awareness are needed to stop violence against women,” Keshtkar said and added, “The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is a good opportunity to raise people’s awareness of the social consequences of violence against women and to reinforce collective action against the issue.”  

The United Nations General Assembly has designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Keshtkar said that the film is scheduled to be screened at various Iranian and international events observing the day.

Starring Iran Masudi, the movie depicts a woman’s different responses to voices addressing her with favorable and undesirable words.


Israeli Knitting Project Empowers Bedouin, Syrian Women

Rina Bassist

Jun 10, 2020

Shula Mozes and Tal Zur are both busy women. Mozes is a social entrepreneur and the founder of a philanthropic volunteer association for youths. Zur is a designer and artistic director. The coronavirus pandemic has delayed the presentation of their new knit collection, but they are not deterred. While preparing their next collection, they have already released a coronavirus kit for home knitting. The kit includes detailed instructions and high-quality material for knitting face masks.

"We are a small team of women, doing everything and operating exactly like a start-up; we react quickly and dynamically to changes. We react, and if we fall down, we get up rapidly. For instance, we have started recently fabricating home-knitting kits for slippers and face masks. We are all about crafts and design. Does that mean that we should operate like a traditional society? Absolutely not!" Zur said, when they launched the home-knitting idea.

Mozes, the founder, and Zur, the co-founder, manage together the IOTA project. A young initiative, established in 2014, which connects the art of crochet knitting with the desire to create job opportunities for disadvantaged people and unemployed women. More specifically, it offers women who fled from Syria to Turkey and women from the Israeli-Bedouin community to deploy their crafting know-how for the creation of luxury furniture and decorations for indoors and outdoors. Using traditional techniques, the women follow designs imagined by the Israeli team, to create beautiful rugs, swings, stools, foot rests, cushions, quilts, and much more. A unique universe of colors and materials. Or in Zur’s words, "creating innovative products from a traditional starting point."

Zur explained that the language of knitting is ancient yet universal, like the language of music and notes. Women from different countries and cultures can communicate and dialogue though knitting, even if they don’t speak each other’s languages. "In Istanbul, there is an initiative that is a bit similar to ours. It is run by IzabelaErsahin, who works with female refugees. The women learn knitting techniques and they can work the way that is best for them. We started working together two years ago, and the idea is that we offer a way of thinking — not just design and production. This way, we are developing a chain of businesses with a common denominator and shared values."

Several other women work with Mozes and Zur in their Jaffa studio, including project manager DoritChesler, textile designer Lion Ben Aroosh, product designer NoaCuriel, head of knitting Iris Moalem and industrial designer NaamaSteinbock. The women of IOTA say that their cooperation with Istanbul opens all sorts of interesting doors to local crafts. Throughout history, crafts were transmitted from father to son or from mother to daughter. Working with the Syrian refugees generates a new way of preserving craft and artistic traditions in global markets.

IOTA is also working with a group of women from the Bedouin village of Hura, in the south of Israel. "At first, we thought of working with young Bedouin women. They dreamt that with us they could exit their community circle. But this did not work out. Then we approached a group of women a bit older — mostly mothers. We started with a rather large group. Not all persisted. Some saw it did not fit them. Others stayed. Of course, enthusiasm was mixed with fears. We were from somewhere else, from Tel Aviv, and coming with a vision. The head of the village, Muhammad, accompanied us from the very first minute, and really helped us a lot to gather a group of women. He also offered us a room at the community center and put us in touch with key people," Zur added.

IOTA in Latin means a very small amount. The IOTA project focuses on small knit stitches and small steps forward. But the aspirations of the women behind this brand are all but tiny. For Chesler, IOTA is first of all a luxury brand, aiming for the international market. After featuring at the 2017 Tom Dixon's MULTIPLEX in Milan, at the 2019 Basel Art Fair and at Maison&Objet in Paris, IOTA is now targeting the US market.




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