New Age Islam
Fri Aug 14 2020, 09:27 AM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 8 Feb 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

School Asks Parents Not To Wear Nighties, Burqas While Dropping Kids

 

 

 

 

   

 

Fencing champion Ibtihaj Muhammad tells students at the John F. Kennedy all-girls school in Dakar that they can do anything they believe in, Feb. 7, 2014. (Jennifer Lazuta/VOA)

 

 

 

German Court Rules Muslim Girls Must Join Swim Classes

American Female Muslim Athlete Inspires Girls in Dakar

World Hijab Day Shows Pride in Being Muslim

Family Blames Saudi Gender Segregation Rules for Student’s Death

Will Tunisian Women Finally Inherit What They Deserve?

Arabs React to Raunchy Shakira, Rihanna Video with Criticism

Sheikha Fatima A Pioneer of Progress for Arab Women

50 Lashes for Wife-Beater in Saudi Arab

Iran's Female Footballers to Have Sex Tests

KSA-born expatriates look for Saudi wives

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/school-asks-parents-not-to-wear-nighties,-burqas-while-dropping-kids/d/35656

 

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School Asks Parents Not To Wear Nighties, Burqas While Dropping Kids

By: Nischith N

Bangalore Mirror Bureau

Feb 7, 2014,

Parents say the note telling them to come in 'formal' dresses while dropping kids is derogatory

A badly-spelt handwritten note to parents asking them not to wear Nighties, shorts or Burqas while dropping their children to Navodaya Kishore Kendra in Kuvempunagar, Bangalore North, triggered of tension, with several parents protesting it.

The contention of a parent, Mohammed Almeem, was that the management of the school had insisted that women remove their Burqas while picking up children. Of the 750 children studying from kindergarten to Class X, nearly 50 per cent are said to be Muslim.

School headmaster Prakash clarified that they had not asked the women to take off the burqa, but just remove the veil and show the school staff their faces, when they collected the children.'' At times we do not even know who has come to pick up the children and the rule was to ensure the safety of the children, as there are chances for miscreants to wear burkha and kidnap students,'' he said.

The school also said that dropping and picking up children wearing a nightie or shorts was ''indecent.'' It asked parents to come in 'formal dress'. The school is owned by E Krishnappa, husband of c from the Congress. With some parents resorting to slogan-shouting in front of the school, Vidyaranyapura police had to intervene. They counselled the parents and the school authorities, following which the directive was withdrawn.

http://www.bangaloremirror.com/bangalore/others/School-asks-parents-not-to-wear-nighties-burqas/articleshow/29961141.cms

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German Court Rules Muslim Girls Must Join Swim Classes

February 9, 2014

A German court ruled on Wednesday that Muslim girls must take part in school swimming lessons with boys, in a landmark decision that touches on the sensitive relationship between religion and the state.

The decision by Germany's top court for public and administrative disputes signals that the state's constitutional obligation to educate children can take precedence over customs and practices linked to an individual's religious beliefs.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her centre-right government have sought dialogue with the country's roughly four-millions Muslims, but have also said they must make an effort to integrate and learn German.

The court said Muslim schoolgirls could not be exempted from swimming lessons, provided they were allowed to wear so-called "Burkini," full-body swimsuits worn by many Muslim women which leave only the face, hands and feet exposed.

The plaintiff was a Muslim girl, originally from Morocco, who goes to school in the western state of Hesse. Her parents have tried for several years to stop her from joining swimming lessons with boys. She was 11 years old when the case started.

"The plaintiff has not made sufficiently clear that ... taking part in co-educational swimming lessons with a Burkini breaches Muslim rules on clothing," said the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, rejecting her appeal.

However, the girl's lawyer argued that she was embarrassed to see boys wearing nothing but swimming trunks.

"The Koran not only forbids being seen by others in light clothing but she herself should not see boys and girls with (swimsuits) on," Klaus Meissner, her lawyer, was quoted in German media as saying before the hearing.

The question of Muslim girls taking part in physical education and swimming lessons has prompted legal disputes in several European countries in recent years, highlighting the challenge of accommodating different religious beliefs.

German Islamic groups say they are not against Burkinis.

"From our point of view, a full body swimsuit is appropriate and acceptable in Islam. However, freedom of belief and conscience should be respected," Aiman Mazyek, head of Germany's Central Council of Muslims, told German radio.

In May, the Swiss Supreme Court rejected a Muslim family's case against a school rule that their daughter had to take part in swimming classes and could not wear a Burkini.

In staunchly secular France, which has banned religious dress such as Muslim headscarves and Jewish skullcaps as well as large Christian crosses in state schools, some public swimming pools have banned Burkini.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/german-court-rules-muslim-girls-must-join-swim-classes-v20440979

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American Female Muslim Athlete Inspires Girls in Dakar

February 9, 2014

DAKAR — Ibtihaj Muhammad was the first-ever female Muslim athlete to compete on behalf of the United States in an international competition. Muhammad spoke to an all-girls school in Dakar Friday about her experiences as a female African-American Muslim fencer.

Growing up black and Muslim in the U.S. state of New Jersey, 28-year-old Ibtihaj Muhammad says she loved sports, but often struggled to find her place.

"Growing up, especially at this age, we all want to be liked by our friends; we all want to fit in with our friends. But as a Muslim woman, because I cover, I always had to change the uniform. So if I played tennis, if I played soccer or if I ran track, and my teammates wore shorts or short sleeves, I would always have to wear long sleeves or long pants, and it was hard for me as a kid, because I didn’t feel like I fit in," said Muhammad.

It was her mom who urged her to try fencing - a sport where competitors must wear full body, head and even hand coverings.

"I find that in sport, once I put my mask on - that’s the beauty, I feel, of my sport - it almost becomes an equal playing field. People look at me as an athlete, and solely as an athlete, as opposed to being a woman or a Muslim or being black. And I love it," she said.

In fencing, two competitors face off in a highly technical form of swordfight, scoring points each time they touch their opponent with a saber. Muhammad says the sport is a lot like chess - you have to constantly think ahead to outwit your opponent.

Muhammad began fencing in 1999 at the age of 13. She set her sights on the American national team in 2007 when she realized there were no minorities represented.

She says that even though people told her that black Muslim women do not fence, she kept at it. In 2011, Muhammad became the first female Muslim athlete to represent the United States. She is now ranked second in the United States and 10th worldwide.

Eighteen-year-old Amy Gaye Ndeye, a student at the John F. Kennedy all-girls school in Dakar, said Muhammad is an inspiration to all girls who have dreams of becoming an athlete.

"Here, in Senegal, it’s usually only men who play sports. But now, girls are seeing that women can also participate in sports. I and many of my friends look up to athletes like Muhammad because she sets an example for all girls who just want to play the sport they love." said Ndeye.

Muhammad said she hopes that young girls and women around the world will never let other people’s misconceptions about race, gender or religion define who they are or stop them from doing what they want.

http://www.voanews.com/content/first-american-female-muslim-athlete-inspires-girls-in-dakar/1846731.html

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World Hijab Day Shows Pride in Being Muslim

February 9, 2014

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)--Nezma Khan came to the United States from Bangladesh at the age of 11. She was the only one wearing a Hijab, a headscarf covering the hair, in the entire school and her classmates made fun of her. "They called me names, such as batman, ninja, etc.," she said, remembering the time she was in high school in New York.

Her classmates didn't stop there. They became physical with her. "I was terrified . . . I still remember the day when a bunch of girls waited outside of my class just to pull off my Hijabi felt so helpless," Nezma Khan told Women's eNews in an email interview.

Now an entrepreneur and the founder of World Hijab Day, Nezma Khan is far from alone. Muslim women are more likely to be the targets of Islamophobic attacks than men, especially if they are wearing clothing associated with their religion, a British study found in 2013. The study also indicated that attacks on Muslim women accounted for 58 percent of such cases, with 80 percent of the attacks on women who were visually identifiable through wearing a hijab, niqab or other clothing associated with Islam.

Nezma Kahn said it got worse for her after 9/11, after which she started to receive messages from other Muslim women who were going through the same nightmare. The women were reaching out to her through her website StunningHijab.com, which sells hijabs to Muslim women and offers education and moral support.

During the summer of 2011, after receiving more messages from Muslim women across the globe with similar situations, she came up with the idea of "World Hijab Day," which is celebrated by women around the globe on Feb. 1.

"I thought if I could invite other women (Muslim and non-Muslim) to walk in my shoes just for one day, perhaps, things would change," Nezma Khan said.

New York events to celebrate the Hijab this year included "Hijab is my crown," which took place on Feb. 2 and was organized by Muslims Giving Back. The event drew hundreds of women, Muslim and non-Muslim, to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to discuss the importance of the Hijab in Islam.

Trying to 'Fit In'

Salma Khan, who is the ambassador of World Hijab Day in New York, was not bullied like her sister Nezma. She started to wear the Hijab later in life, in 2006, because before that, when she was younger, she had "tried to fit in."

"But no matter if you wear or don't wear the hijab, you are always viewed as the Muslim so why should I compromise my religion, my beliefs," Salma Khan told Women's eNews.

One of the New York organizers of the "Hijab is my crown" event, Nusaiba Guererro-Macias is an American-Cuban Muslim from the Bronx, who converted to Islam about three years ago.

Prior to her conversion, Guererro-Macias said she viewed Muslim women as oppressed. "I thought their parents forced them to do it or it (the Hijab) was this cultural secret thing and they couldn't show their hair to anyone," she told Women's eNews during the event.

Guerrero-Macias was "very curious" about the meaning of the Islamic veil, but she said she couldn't "embrace such a thing. I couldn't wear something like this and say I am happy, I felt like I needed to express my beauty, I needed people to see my beauty." But she is now happy that by wearing the Hijab "people are able to appreciate my intellect instead of judging me by the outside."

Diana Fuentes also used to wonder why some Muslim women covered their hair. But Fuentes insists that she was never "judgmental" of Muslim women wearing a Hijab.

Fuentes arrived in New York from Colombia three years ago. Being in New York has "opened new doors," said Fuentes, referring to her conversion to Islam.

She became a Muslim in October 2013. Fuentes didn't wear the Hijab right away after her conversion. She slowly incorporated it into her daily outfit, wearing it on and off. She began covering her hair in a committed way in November 2013.

For Fuentes, the Hijab identifies her as a Muslim and gives her "confidence."

Identity Forming

When questioned on the meaning of the Hijab, Muslim women tend to explain that it is part of their identity.

"Hijab is my identity. It tells people who I am before I even have to tell them," Linda Sarsour, executive director at the Arab American Association of N.Y., told Women's eNews.

Sarsour started to wear a hijab in 2000 after her mother's friend came back from the pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, with a bag full of headscarves. She was 20 years old.

Now, Sarsour provided a reminder to the hundreds of women attending the "Hijab is my crown" event in Bay's Ridge's Widdi Hall.

"Your Islam or your Imaan (faith) is not defined by your Hijab anywhere on your head. Because sisters wear Hijab or because I wear Hijab, it doesn't make me a perfect Muslim. I struggle everyday with faith and focus," Sarsour stressed as she addressed the crowd from a stage.

Besides being a display of the Muslim identity and faith, veiled Muslim women also say that wearing the Hijab helps them stay away from what it is not Islamically permissible.

The Hijab "saved me from drugs, alcohol or things like clubbing," said Salma Khan.

Zainab Ismail, a personal trainer and nutritionist in New York, wears her hijab as protection. "I feel it protects me and helps me stay within what is permissible in our religion and avoid the not permissible," she said.

After her conversion in June 2009, Ismail was worried about her clients' reaction to her conversion.

Fortunately, most of them eventually respected her choice.

Ismail gradually changed the way she dressed at the gym. "I slowly started to cover, first with a baseball cap with my hair tucked in, and the beanie" she said. On Jan. 3, 2010, her birthday, she decided to fully don the Hijab.

Ismail, who was born and raised in New York and is from a Puerto Rican family, is the co-founder of Nadoona, a nonprofit that promotes healthy lifestyles for Muslim women through fitness and diets.

Now, Ismail's workout outfits fully cover her skin and hide her shape. Only her hands and face can be seen.

The Hijab Project

Another initiative, The Hijab Project, was recently launched online to encourage women to perform a social experiment by wearing the Hijab in any public place and share their experience on the website.

The Hijab Project was founded by 16-year-old Amara Majeed, who started to wear the Hijab a couple of years ago.

"I hope to eliminate the ignorance that exists about Muslim women, and to promote an understanding of a growing and unfortunately misunderstood minority in America," said Majeed in an email interview.

Besides educating non-Muslims on the meaning of the Hijab, Majeed seeks to empower young Muslim women through education. She teaches English to Muslim girls in Afghanistan, Philippines, Egypt and Sri Lanka through the use of interactive power points. "I'm not just teaching them English; I'm telling them that they are valuable individuals who are worth education, who are worthy of my time, even if I live on the other side of the world. It helped me realize that I want to empower women," she said.

Bedor El Hanafi, an American-Egyptian Muslim from Brooklyn, decided to wear the headscarf after she got married. It was a way to get closer to God, she explains.

"It is a big step though. This has changed my life. I do miss my hair being out, especially the wind going through my hair. I miss that," said El Hanafi, who wears an ethnic print headscarf that matches a long black dress, called an Abaya. "But it is not that serious. I will have the wind flowing in my Hijab."

Hajer Naili is a New York-based reporter for Women's eNews. She has worked for several radio stations and publications in France and North Africa and specializes in Middle East and North Africa women in Islam.

http://www.trust.org/item/20140207094757-r5ll3/

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Family blames Saudi gender segregation rules for student’s death

February 9, 2014

Riyadh: The family of a Saudi woman student who died of heart problems has said her university prevented medics from getting to her in time because of rules barring men from the women-only part of the campus, Saudi media reported.

The King Saud University in Riyadh denied the accusation and said Amena Bawazir, who had a history of heart disease, received quick medical attention after suffering a stroke last Sunday, causing her heart and lungs to stop functioning.

The case has revived memories of a 2002 incident in which 15 schoolgirls in Jeddah died in a fire after the Saudi morality police sent them back into the building because they were not veiled.

Al Arabiya television’s news website quoted Amena’s sister, Fahda Bawazir, as saying that medics arrived at a campus gate shortly after her sister fell ill at around 11am.

“But the medics were not allowed to enter the campus until 1pm,” she said, in a report published late on Thursday.

She said university authorities kept them outside until a gate was secured in a way “that did not allow the [male] medics and females in the building to mix.” A university spokesman denied there was any delay, saying campus medics attended to the girl and when they failed to revive her they called in medics from a local hospital.

It quoted the spokesman, Ahmad Al Tamimi, as saying those medics arrived at the scene at 12.45pm, 10 minutes after they were called. Failing to revive her on the spot, they took Amena to the university hospital where she was pronounced dead at 13:39pm.

“As the university issues this correction, it asserts its responsibility towards all male and female students and its serious efforts to preserve their lives and safety,” Tamimi said.

Saudi Arabia adheres to the Wahhabi brand of Islam, which forbids mixing between men and women and restricts women’s movements, often requiring the permission of a male guardian.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/family-blames-saudi-gender-segregation-rules-for-student-s-death-1.1287861

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Will Tunisian Women Finally Inherit What They Deserve?

February 9, 2014

Tunisian women are often described as the most liberated women in the Arab World (which, I suppose, essentially puts them in the position of "the best of the worst"). Despite their relatively privileged status, they still have a long way to go before they can really be regarded as equal citizens in the deeply patriarchal society that is Tunisia.

It's not just that Tunisian women face frequent gender discrimination due to the conservative nature of society; there are many cases, indeed, where gender inequality is justified by the law.

Inheritance laws are one example of how the Tunisian legal system fails to consider women as equal to men. Tunisian inheritance laws, which are based on Islamic jurisprudence, entitle female heirs to only half of the share of property of their male peers. It's true that there are some exceptions to this rule: some parents even take care to cede assets to their daughters while they're still alive, as a way of ensuring that their female progeny receive a rightful share of inheritance. The general rule, though -- especially in the case of the absence of a prior will -- is that women get only half of share due to men.

Are things about to change? Tunisia has just ratified its new constitution, which has been hailed by international observers for enshrining gender equality.

One test for the newly passed charter will be whether it manages to provide a basis for real change by ending discriminatory laws like the inheritance regulations. The new constitution includes articles that clearly stipulate equality of the sexes in terms of their rights and duties before the law. It explicitly rules out any discrimination along gender lines.

One female Islamist Member of Parliament, Fattoum Lassoued of the Ennahdha Party, said that any eventual changes in Tunisian law will not include the inheritance issue:

"The constitution should be interpreted as a complete document," she told me. "You cannot take one article out of context and interpret it by itself. The first article of the constitution says that Islam is the religion of the state. Therefore, we cannot play with inheritance laws. There is a clear text in the Quran about it."

Even though the Tunisian constitution guarantees the equality of rights and of participation in different aspects of public life, Lassoued said, that doesn't necessarily mean full equality across the board -- especially when it comes to inheritance laws.

"I don't think the Tunisian people want that kind of change," she said. "It would be very difficult because it touches upon the very nature of the Tunisian society. Inheritance laws are a red line."

Changing inheritance laws is thus seen by some people as a threat to the patriarchal nature of the Tunisian society that many, mostly conservatives, are keen to preserve.

Monia, a 45-year-old teacher, begged to differ. She told me that the current inheritance laws in Tunisia are absurd and unfair because Tunisian women are more and more expected to be financially autonomous and participate in supporting the family.

"I bring my money to the family and I spend as much as my husband spends," she said. "Are we equal in duties but not in rights?"

Article 21 of the newly passed constitution states explicitly that "all citizens, male and female alike, have equal rights and duties, and are equal before the law without any discrimination."

Former judge Mokhtar Yahyaoui said the language of the article is clear, and that it should lead to inheritance laws that apply equally to both genders.

He noted that changing such laws is difficult for a government. If, however, the necessary institutions are put in place (above all a Constitutional Court), there is no way that the current inheritance laws would be deemed constitutional.

Yahyaoui added that, while the first article of the constitution establishes Islam as the religion of the state, Article 2 of the same document defines Tunisia as a civil state based on citizenship and the supremacy of law.

Therefore, the civil character of the Tunisian state should lead to civil and not religious interpretation of the gender equality provision.

While women's rights activists have been pushing for changing inheritance laws over the past few decades, their efforts have always been met with resistance from the more conservative segments of society.

The constitutional provisions granting gender equality still have to be translated into laws before they can be considered gains for Tunisian women.

Unfortunately, the political turmoil caused by the 2011 uprising has been accompanied by a surge of religious extremism that has prompted Tunisian women to focus on preserving the status quo rather than advancing their rights.

And while some see a potential change for the good in the near future, others think that the very debate on issues like the discriminatory inheritance laws is premature. They say that changing laws should be preceded by a transformation of the national mentality that will happen over years, if not generations.

http://transitions.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/02/07/will_tunisian_women_finally_inherit_what_they_deserve

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Arabs React to Raunchy Shakira, Rihanna Video with Criticism

February 9, 2014

Rolling around in bed with another female music star, while smoking cigars, has landed Columbian singer Shakira in hot water.

Shakira’s recently released music video for her new single “Can’t Remember to Forget you” which features Rihanna, sparked a wave of criticism from Arab fans and music industry professionals in recent days.

Shakira has been condemned for “promoting lesbianism” with Rihanna in the video.

“It’s a lesbianist music video, it’s really over [the top],” Fadi Haddad, a Lebanese music video director told Al Arabiya News.

Arab online commenters criticized the music video as well, expressing their shock on Twitter. Shakira, a Columbian artist, took most the blame because of her Lebanese origins; ger paternal grandparents emigrated from Lebanon to New York City, where her father was born.

In an interview last year, the singer credited her “cultural fusion” music to her mixed ethnicity, saying "I am a fusion. That's my persona. I'm a fusion between black and white, between pop and rock, between cultures - between my Lebanese father and my mother's Spanish blood, the Colombian folklore and Arab dance I love and American music.”

Online anger

But the online anger from Arabs over the video has become increasingly evident.

“The world is not as bad as you think… it is even worse than that, #Shakira is a goodwill ambassador and #Israel won a Nobel Peace Prize,” tweeted user @EnG_SG in Arabic.

Other tweeps voiced their thoughts about the video using hashtags such as #sex, #lesbian, and #lust, in Arabic.

Negative popular and religious opinion in the wider Arab world, is a large part of the difficulties faced by homosexuals, with Muslims and Christians citing the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as an “example” of moral depravity.

Homosexuality is illegal in 78 countries across the world and is still punishable by death in five countries, which include Iran, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

The video, uploaded on Shakira’s YouTube channel on Jan. 31, garnered more than 88 million views in only one week. It features both artists lying down in bed, touching each other and smoking cigars.

“They are both class A stars, and the song is amazing, but I thought the bed scene was over [too bold], and the hands [touching], it’s really bad,” added Haddad.

Arab artists are known for also using elements of sex appeal in their music videos, and viewers in the region are not completely foreign to the sight of a female artists explicitly expressing their sensuality in front of the camera.

“The Arab world is used to one female artist [appearing in an explicit manner], we also have gay men in music videos, it’s very obvious, but we never have explicitly labeled it like they have done,” Haddad stated.

'Killing creativity'

According to Wissam Mandil, a producer of more than 50 music videos in the Middle East and internationally, “a music video should be surreal, it shouldn’t be real,” he told Al Arabiya News.

While explicitly explaining that he was not making a statement in support of, or against, lesbians, Mandil stated: “whether we accept it or not lesbians exist in the Arab world and elsewhere.”

But from an artistic perspective, Nabil Alalawi, CEO of Qithara production, an art production and advertising company, was against mirroring such sensitivities in music videos.

“Stars around the world have to search for a new concept, but I’m against abusing things like social matters because it kills the creativity.

“The difference between art and media is that the first creates something out of scratch, while the other takes reality and portrays it,” said Nabil.

According to him, Arab viewers have the right to express their opinion and now have the choice to watch or stop watching whatever they want, adding: “we are no longer stuck to one channel.”

He stressed that the music video scene in the Arab world is now much better, as “there are many who admire creativity and do not disregard Arab culture.”

However, at the end of the day, “any publicity is good publicity,” Mandil added.

Columbian dismay

The raunchy video did only provoke controversy among Arabs. Marco Fidel Ramírez, a Columbian councillor launched a petition to ban the video from being aired on national television.

Using the hashtag #PeligroVideoShakira, which translates “dangers of Shakira’s videos,” Ramírez tweeted in Spanish saying the video “damages the moral character of youth.”

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/life-style/entertainment/2014/02/08/Arabs-react-to-raunchy-Shakira-Rihanna-video.html

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Sheikha Fatima a pioneer of progress for Arab women

February 9, 2014

ABU DHABI: In a recent article published on Newsweek.com, Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, has stated that significant advances are taking place across the Arab world in terms of the position of women.

She singles out Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, the ‘Mother of the Nation,’ as having spearheaded universal education for women in the UAE in the 1970s and for having pushed for the appointment, in 2004, of the UAE’s first female Cabinet Minister, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, who today is Minister of Development and International Cooperation.

Blair goes on to note that, thanks to leading examples such as Sheikha Fatima and the women she inspired, the UAE has the best ranking out of 136 countries for the ratio of girls to boys in education, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.

She also notes that the UAE has implemented various reforms to encourage greater lending for both men and women, and banks and other lenders are now following the lead. Mariah Khan, head of private banking for women at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, is one of many lenders promoting loan packages and other incentives for women to start their own businesses.

Blair says that figures indicate that more than 20,000 companies in the UAE are owned by Emirati women, and this number continues to grow by 5-10 per cent each year.

“These emerging women entrepreneurs,” says Blair, need the right kind of support and network to launch and run their businesses. That is why in addition to assistance with start-up capital, mentoring and training are critical to female economic engagement.

In general, she says, there are signs of progress on multiple fronts for women, at all levels of society, throughout the Arab world, which must be encouraged to address the critical challenge of the need to expand economic opportunities for women.

A little-discussed factor driving these changes, she adds, is the fact that more women hold positions of authority in the greater Middle East than ever before. Besides Sheikha Fatima, Blair also cites the high-profile names of women such as Jordan’s Queen Rania and Queen Noor, and Qatar’s Sheikha Moza; women who have raised their societies’ expectations for girls and other women.

Blair explains that the gap in economic equality still remains wide, and the full potential of local, regional, and global economies remains unachievable when half the population increasingly educated and ambitious - is not engaged and contributing.

However, she says that women in the region have made some inroads, finding that the growth of small to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Arab and Muslim world is particularly fertile ground for female entrepreneurs and overcoming barriers for them to access capital has been instrumental in realising this potential.

She concludes that overall, the signs are positive for Arab and Muslim women, saying that comprehensive long-term research undertaken by the United Nations shows that Arab states with few exceptions have risen in the Gender Empowerment Measures, female participation in primary education is at its highest levels across the Arab world and continues to increase, and that if more women can be employed, the benefits to women and the world are innumerable.

Blair concludes by saying that the necessary changes will not come overnight, but must be viewed as a long arc that over the decades, she says, is surely bending in the right direction toward gender equality.

http://gulftoday.ae/portal/aa3bbb8f-29b6-4284-b3a1-32b876a5d454.aspx

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50 Lashes for Wife-Beater In Saudi Arab

February 9, 2014

A criminal court in Qatif handed a man 30 days in jail and 50 lashes for beating his wife.

Police arrested the man after his wife told police that he beat her up with a metal wire following a dispute between them. She also showed investigators the bruises on different parts of her body to substantiate her complaint, a local daily reported.

The court is also investigating a complaint against a 31-year-old Saudi driver for harassing a female student who he was taking to school in his car.

http://www.arabnews.com/news/522636

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Iran's Female Footballers to Have Sex Tests

February 9, 2014

Footballers in Iran's professional women's league are to have mandatory gender tests to establish that they are fully female.

The country's football governing body is bringing in random checks after it was revealed that several leading players - including four in the national women's team - were either men who had not completed sex change operations, or were suffering from sexual development disorders. Sex change operations are legal in Iran according to a fatwa - or religious ruling - pronounced by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, spiritual leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Ahmad Hashemian, the head of the Iranian football federation's medical committee, said the clubs were now obliged to carry out medical examinations to establish the gender of their players before signing them on contracts. Those unable to prove they were female would be barred from taking part until they had medical treatment, he said.

http://www.dnaindia.com/sport/report-iran-s-female-footballers-to-have-sex-tests-1960140

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KSA-Born Expatriates Look For Saudi Wives

February 9, 2014

Many Kingdom-born expats find marrying Saudi women as the best guarantee for a bright future in Saudi Arabia.

This is especially the case after the Nitaqat program drastically reduced the number of expats in the labour market.

Arab expatriates born in Saudi Arabia say they cannot return to the countries of their ancestors because they have no real ties there. At the same time, they face many obstacles to finding jobs in the Kingdom.

Making matters more confusing are the rumours that expatriates born here will be considered Saudis under the Nitaqat program. They can also transfer their sponsorship to the wives that provide a safe future in the Kingdom for them.

At the same time, the government has granted certain privileges to the sons of Saudi women married to foreigners. There are 584 Saudi women married to expatriates in the Makkah region, 543 in Riyadh and 490 in the Eastern Province. Some 2,000 Saudi women married foreigners in 2011, according to a report released by the Ministry of Justice in 2013.

Sons of Saudi women married to expats can now benefit from Saudi citizenship privileges and remain under the sponsorship of their mothers. They are effectively Saudis and will have access to various public services including education and health, according to a decision taken by the Cabinet.

The Ministry of Labour will also consider them Saudis under the Nitaqat system to help them find jobs in the private sector. Many expatriates born here hope to have similar privileges so they can continue living here and provide a good future for their children by marrying Saudi women.

“I am looking for a Saudi woman for marriage. I want to spend all my life here in the Kingdom where I was born and educated. The local laws of the labour market have ignored us. I am now a part of the Saudi society with the same culture, accent and religion. However, I need guarantee to live all my life here,” Salah Sabri, a 33-year-old Yemeni resident told Arab News.

Meanwhile, the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) has confirmed that foreign men married to Saudi women are eligible to receive retirement benefits, provided they are under the sponsorship of their wives and registered in the system as “special expats,” like foreign women married to Saudi nationals.

However, several Saudi women who are divorced or those who have reached an advanced age without marriage represent the best category for marriage with Saudi-born expats. A number of Saudi women said they won’t refuse any expat who was born in the Kingdom because they represent sons of the country like Saudis.

“I can’t call ‘expatriate’ anyone who was born and educated in the Kingdom. I consider them Saudis and they have the right to have a secure future in the Kingdom especially as the local laws of Saudisation ignore them. If I find anyone who was born here and wants to marry me and he can manage married life well, I will accept him,” said a Saudi nurse in a public hospital.

http://www.arabnews.com/news/523151

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/school-asks-parents-not-to-wear-nighties,-burqas-while-dropping-kids/d/35656

 

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