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Summit hears more opportunities needed for Arab women

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More opportunities need to be provided to women in the Muslim world to counter the suggestion from abroad that they are marginalised in society, the Arab Media Summit has heard.

Iyad Madani, secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, said in some societies the “woman disappears under the umbrella of manhood”.

He said the Muslim world must ensure rights are guaranteed as are “societal opportunities”.

Madani was speaking at the 15th Arab Media Forum titled ‘Stereotypes: Islam and Muslims’, attended by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Madani said: “We as Muslims are always accused of putting the role of women secondary and some of us respond with ‘who is saying that’.

“The woman is my mother, sister, daughter or wife so we do not discriminate against the woman and we do not marginalise her.

“But if you were to have an in-depth look, you find that this view always links the woman’s role to her relationship with a male, whether he is the father, brother, son or husband.

“While with the man we don’t define him through his relationship with another man or another woman but as someone independent.

“[But] the woman disappears under the umbrella of manhood. There could be some aspects which necessitate different roles between the two but what we are talking about is societal opportunities [for women]… their share in the economic process.”

TV personalities said there have been improvements for women in the media in

particular but more could be done.

Najwa Al Kassem, a presenter with Al Arabiya TV, said: “The female media personality is a woman that is beautiful but also with brains.

“We are bringing this role model, or at least this is what we are seeking to do.

Gisele Habib, an anchor at Al Arabiya added: “The media woman today is very much a news presenter as well as a field reporter, although the numbers are still not that many.”

Habib said women still have to devote time to children, but the rise of social media and other advances are helping them work from home.

The Arab Media Summit continues today.


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